What’s a matter you? Get off your Yankee butt and immerse yourself in the Old World flavors of Newport’s ITALIANFEST. Rome won’t burn, but it sure will sizzle with live Italian music and authentic Italian food. Yum! There’s also a pizza-eating contest, a photo exhibit that shows off the lovely mugs of generations of Italian Americans living in Newport, midway games and rides for the kids (or the kid in you). Live music and harbor cruises Friday and Saturday evenings. It’s a massive event that drew more than 90,000 visitors in 2009. Free. 5-11 p.m. June 10-11; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. June 12; and noon-9 p.m. June 13. Newport Riverfront, Newport, 859-292-3666, www.newportky.gov.
Now in its 23rd year, the JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, and is a chance to recall Cincinnati’s unique heritage as the gateway to the North for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. Beside the vendors and festival fare, there are historical reenactments with actors playing the roles of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, health and wellness screenings, a Father’s Day concert and much more. The Parade of Flags on Saturday afternoon is a procession of the colors of the 70 African countries from which Africans were captured and enslaved. The children’s area has free horse rides from the Cincinnati Black Cowboys, games and storytelling. Free. Noon-9 p.m. June 19; 2-6 p.m. June 20. Seasongood Pavilion, Eden Park, www.juneteenthcincinnati.org.
It’s the biggest on-water festival in the Midwest and, for that matter, the nation. The Ohio River Way PADDLEFEST brings more than 1,800 canoeists and kayakers to the Mighty Ohio every year. The party starts with the Kids Outdoor Adventure Expo 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 24 at Coney Island, with the Ohio River Music & Outdoor Festival going until 9 p.m. The event closes June 26 with boat races and floats from Coney Island to Yeatman’s Cove. Admission is free, but there is a $3 charge for parking at Coney Island and registration fees for on-water participants. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., Anderson Township; Yeatman’s Cove (adjacent to Sawyer Point), Cincinnati Riverfront, www.ohioriverway.org/paddlefest.
If you’re like us, your mouth waters and your feet twitch at the mention of the PANEGYRI GREEK FESTIVAL. Mountains of goodness in the form of souvlaki, gyros and dolmas are heaped out in booths at the festival, just waiting to be eaten. This big, fat Greek celebration offers “kefi” (that’s a Greek word meaning pleasure and satisfaction with life) to the masses with one-of-a-kind art objects and traditional Greek music and dance. Don’t know how to dance like a native? They’ll school you. Opa! $2 for adults, and kids 12 and under are free. Free parking and shuttle from St. Xavier High School at 600 North Bend Road. 5-11 p.m.
Northside’s PRE-4TH OF JULY ROCK’N’ROLL CARNIVAL is legendary as one of the craziest, foot-stompin-ist, most awesome events of Cincinnati summers. Sword-swallowers, fire eaters, local rock bands and the famous Northside Beer Garden (Hoffner Park). The carnival kicks off 6 p.m.-1 a.m. July 2 with music by The Long Gones, The Sundresses, You You’re Awesome, The Kiss Me Everlasting, The Tempers and the Queen City String Band. Kinetic test-of-courage performances by Incendium Arts and The Pickled Brothers Sideshow. The parade is noon July 3 along Hamilton Avenue. Immediately following the parade is the second day (until 1 a.m.) with tunes by State Song, Brian Olive, Daniel Martin Moore, The Tigerlillies, Baoku Moses & The Image Afrobeat, Cletus Romp, Dance With Me, LLC and more. You’re gonna have a ball. Free. July 2-3. Jacob Hoffner Park, Northside, www.northsiderocks.com.
What will the PRIDE 2010 PARADE AND FESTIVAL look like with a new location (it’s moved Downtown from Northside) and in July rather than June? Bigger and better is the idea. Also, by virtue of its overlap with Independence Day, the festival rightly links the struggle for GLBT equality with the arc of America’s civil rights and our nation’s belief of freedom for all. The totally fabulous parade steps onto Fifth Street at the Procter & Gamble towers at 11 a.m. July 4 and marches to Fountain Square, where it joins the weekend-long festival. The parade is a raucous but generally PG-rated spectacle that includes gay, lesbian and transgendered groups (as well as straight allies) from all over the city. The Pride Festival features food, live performances and informational booths. Show up, show off and be yourself. Free. July 2-4. Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-591-0200, www.equinoxcincinnati.com.
The 18th year of the CINCY BLUES FEST presents some of the finest Blues you’re likely to hear in the Tristate, including national and local acts. Three stages offer up acoustic and electrified performances, as well as hoppin’ keyboard work on the ivories. The festival is a project of the Cincinnati Blues Society. $10 admission on Friday and $15 admission on Saturday; kids 12 and under are free and there are discounts for Blues Society members. 5 p.m.-midnight Aug. 6 and 2:30 p.m.-midnight Aug. 7. Bicentennial Commons, Sawyer Point, Cincinnati Riverfront, www.cincyblues.org.
So, if you haven’t had it before, goetta is kinda weird. It’s a German peasant food that combines pork, beef and oats. The idea was that poor folks could cut their limited meat supply with oats to make it last. Somehow it’s become a delicacy in Cincinnati and is now more expensive than the breakfast sausage it was meant to be cheaper than. Hmm. The GLIER’S GOETTAFEST is a celebration of all the things you can do with goetta, like making reubens, omelets and even pizza. Live music is performed all weekend. Carnival games and rides round out the fun. There are also harbor cruises noon-3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Newport Riverfront, Newport, www.goettafest.com.
Though it has aspects of a standard festival, the MIDWEST REGIONAL BLACK FAMILY REUNION CELEBRATION is much more than a party. The event includes a job fair, health screenings, a chess competition and a boat ride from Yeatman’s Cove. The idea is to celebrate the strengths of the black community and bring people and organizations together to strengthen the African-American family. A Gospel concert on Sunday and Rhythm & Blues performance Saturday night round out the event. Aug. 20-22. Most events are free and take place at Sawyer Point on the downtown riverfront. Visit www.midwestbfrc.com for details.
Cincinnati’s favorite suburban festival, THE TASTE OF BLUE ASH, returns for its 25th year with all the classic rock and festival kitsch we’ve come to love. Atlanta Rhythm Section and Little River Band perform Friday evening, and Saturday’s headliners include Rock to Player, The Guess Who and Night Ranger. (Comb-overs will wave to extended guitar solos at the tail of “American Woman” and “Sister Christian.”) Phil Vassar performs on Sunday. Along with the music, there’s a gaggle of festival rides and attractions plus food by area restaurants including Cincinnati Grill, Montgomery Inn, Blue Ash Grill, LaPetite France, Bangkok Terrace, White House Inn and more. Free. 6-11 p.m. Aug. 27; noon-11 p.m. Aug. 28; and noon-9 p.m. Aug. 29. Blue Ash Towne Square, Hunt and Cooper roads, Blue Ash, 513-745-8500, www.blueash.com.
The mother of all local festivals is RIVERFEST, with an estimated 500,000 attendees every year. The Labor Day party that surpasses the 4th of July in explosive magnitude is choreographed by Rozzi’s Fireworks and accompanied by a WEBN soundtrack. Catch the action from Sawyer Point (which is kid-friendly/alcohol free) or from virtually any hillside facing the river. Free. Fireworks begin at 9:05 p.m. Cincinnati Riverfront, www.riverfestcincinnati.com.
The 20th year of the CINCINNATI HISPANIC FESTIVAL is like the best house party you’ve ever been to, complete with non-stop Latin music. Not all of the 70,000 local Hispanics are attending, but it sure feels like they are. It’s a great chance to learn a little Spanglish, make some new friends and indulge in oh-so-tasty Latin fare. The tamales you can find at the festival put those at chain restaurants to shame. Free. Sept. 11-12. Hamilton County Fairgrounds, 7801 Anthony Wayne Ave., 513-891-1430, www.cincinnatihispanicfest.org.