Fun Fests: Toledo Summer Festivals 2012

It is festival season here in Toledo, Ohio and Stikii could not be more excited and proud to be a part of a city with so much culture and history! If you are lucky enough to be in Northwest Ohio during the summertime, you are probably aware of the many festivals held throughout the season. It seems that not a weekend passes without one street festival or another for locals and tourists to attend. Each event is unique in its own cultural and/or artistic way.

Since the city’s founding back in 1833, it has been a mecca for the settlement of immigrants with various different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. It is this wide variety of beliefs, values and customs that brings so many exciting and educational festivals to the area each year.  In today’s blog we plan to touch on just a few of these cultural celebrations. Are you ready to learn more about Toledo’s history, including the Lagrange Street Polish Festival, Lucas County Fair, the Greek-American Festival and the German-American Festival?

Lagrange Street Polish Festival

The Lagrange Street Polish Festival took place this past weekend, July 13-15, on Lagrange Street in Toledo. The event serves as a tribute to the community’s Polish heritage. According to the festival’s website, each year the celebration breaks records for attracting food sales, driving over 20,000 visitors in recent years. Back in the early 1980s, some business owners and residents got together to address various issues of concern for the Polish community. From that, the Polish Festival was born and since its first run in 1984, has become the largest street festival in Toledo.

The Lagrange Street Polish Fest features a variety of unique and culturally inspired arts and crafts displayed in several booths located up and down the street. Some examples of items for sale are Polish dolls, jewelry, photographs and more. A special feature of the festival is the Children’s Area – an area designated for kid fun! These kid zones house a variety of activities to help keep children entertained – face painting, magic shows, a portable circus, sand sculpting – with adult supervision of course!

Music, dancing and entertainment is a highlight of the festival. Whether you enjoy traditional or modern Polish styles, there is something sure to appeal to all tastes. Some of the best polka bands in the area perform throughout the weekend, and the dancing is truly a sight to see! Festival attendees also love watching (or participating in) the annual “Pierogi-Eating Contest”. If you have never tasted pierogis before, they are boiled dumplings stuffed with a variety of ingredients. After they are boiled, the dumplings are fried with butter and chopped onions. Favorite fillings include potato and cheese, mushrooms, sauerkraut or fruit. This contest is usually held on Saturday and first, second and third place winners are awarded cash prizes and bragging rights.

Along with pierogis, many other Polish treats are available during the festival. Dozens of food vendors provide visitors with choices such as kielbasa, paczkis, pigs-in-a-blanket, funnel cake, etc. To help wash down all of the food, the festival also offers Polish (Pivo) and American beer, soft drinks and bottled water. In reality, some people attend just for the food! Stikii bets after learning all of this, all of our readers will be in attendance next year.

 

Greek-American Festival

The 2012 Greek-American Festival is set to be held Friday, September 7 – Sunday, September 9 this year. Located at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the event marks the 42nd annual occurrence of the festival in Toledo. The festival plays host to various food and beverage vendors, live entertainment and a fun time for all.

Visitors to the festival have access to their fill of Greek cuisine, including souvlaki, gyros, Greek pastries, baklava, Greek pizza and more! Cooking demonstrations are also offered for those who wish to cook the delicacies at home.  Be sure to visit the “Gourmet Food Tent” as well as the “Fast Food Tent” when you stop by this year.

As far as entertainment goes, in the past the famous Hellenic Dance Company has performed during the festival (this has not yet been confirmed for the 2012 fest). The dance company dons imported Greek costumes and performs various choreographed Greek dance routines for visitors.  Greek music is played throughout the festival hours each day as well.

Along with food and entertainment, the Greek-American Festival also features boutique, religious and cultural booths made up of icons, books representing the Greek Orthodox faith, costume jewelry, artwork and many imported gifts all the way from Greece. Self-guided tours of the Cathedral, live Cathedral tours and lectures are also usually found on the festival’s agenda.

*Festival hours this year are:

Friday: 11 am to Midnight
Saturday: Noon to Midnight
Sunday: Noon to 8 pm

*Location:

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
740 N. Superior St.
Toledo, OH 43604

Stikii loves the Greek community – especially their stellar cuisine! We cannot wait until September to attend this celebration.

 

German-American Festival

 

Toledo’s very own German-American Festival is held in late August every year at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon, Ohio. This year marks its 47th anniversary (the longest running of the three festivals mentioned so far).  Way back in 1966, representatives from several German and Swiss societies met to discuss the idea of hosting a “Continental Day” to celebrate the German and Swiss heritage, and thus a two-day event was born: the original German American Festival. The first German-American Festival (GAF) in the area was held at Raceway Park and remained in that location until 1974 when it was relocated to the Lucas County Recreation Center. Again in 1986, the festival was moved to its current and permanent home, Oak Shade Grove.

The present day GAF includes a wide variety of beer, food and entertainment. The Bier Garten is one of the main attractions of the festival and includes German beer flavors like Dunkel, Pilsner, and Octoberfest. In 2011 there were 34 different kinds of imported German beers, the largest collection of beers anywhere in the country! Food also lures the thousands of attendees to the GAF each year.  Guests indulge in soft pretzels, schnitzel, bratwurst, potato pancakes and more.

After you have had your fill of food and beverage, dance off those calories to live music in the entertainment tent. Musical acts can be found performing both traditional and ethnic music all weekend long. Each hour, the festivals Glockenspiel comes to life to chime in the hour while men and women in lederhosen and dirndl dance atop the Wein Bar. That is a spectacle you won’t want to miss.

Athletic events including soccer tournaments, gymnastic displays and an authentic Steintossen event complete the event. Steintossen involves contestants hurling 138-pound stones into a designated area. The person who throws the stone the farthest distance is crowned winner. A Children’s Area with face painting, clown visits and more can also be found at the festival.

 

The 2012 GAF is set to take place the weekend of August 25. Festival information is as follows:

Friday, August 24 6 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Saturday, August 25 2 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Sunday, August 26 Noon – 11 p.m
German Language Worship Service – Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Oak Shade Grove

3624 Seaman Rd. Oregon, Ohio

 

Lucas County Fair

2012 marked the 154th annual Lucas Count Fair. The event, which took place July 10-15, 2012, was held at the Lucas County Fairgrounds and welcomed thousands of attendees, a vast variety of activities, food and live entertainment.  Every year the Lucas County Fair is the go-to event of the summer, and this year was no different.

The Danger Brothers rocked the night away on July 13, playing live music for a crowd of excited fans, Other festivities included tractor pools, carnival rides, pro wrestling, exhibits a cheerleading competition and a petting zoo. As you can see, there is plenty to do for all ages and interests!

Each year the Lucas County Fair holds a pie baking contest, horse shows and lawn mower races as well.  New this year was Figure 8 Dirt-Car Racing.  4H Clubs, the FFA and outdoors/animal lovers in general count down the days to the Lucas County fair each year. If you didn’t have a chance to stop by this year, be sure to make room in your schedule for the 2013 celebration!

 

As you now know, the Toledo area has a variety of festivals, fairs and events during the Summer months. Stikii finds attending such events to be a great way to show their support for local  businesses, the community and its founders. It really is a joy to come from a region with such a rich background. Stikii LOVES Toledo!