EVENT: Hamilton County Fair
Rev your engines and get your 4-H club ready: the 163rd-annual Hamilton County Fair is back with a midway full of rides and games, livestock displays, arts and crafts exhibits, carnival food, giant tomatoes and all the rest of the wholesome county antics you’d expect. Things kicked off Wednesday night with a celebrity demolition derby, with non-celebrity demolition derbies throughout the rest of the week, plus micro wrestling on Friday and a rodeo on Sunday. Wander the grounds to find other activities like a petting zoo, circus acts, live music and blue ribbon displays in the exhibition halls. 4-11 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. $3 admission Wednesday; $7 admission all other days; $5 parking per car. Hamilton County Fairgrounds, 7700 Vine St., Carthage, hamiltoncountyfair.com.
MUSIC: Bellwether Music Festival
The Bellwether Music Fest is an Alternative Rock/Pop fest that encourages camping in the great outdoors (à la Bonnaroo) at the home of the Ohio Renaissance Festival in Waynesville. The inaugural fest — the latest endeavor of Bill Donabedian, who also founded Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival and Bunbury Music Festival — features AltRock headliners including The Flaming Lips and MGMT, as well as pioneers of the genre like Echo & the Bunnymen and the Psychedelic Furs, plus strong-drawing bands like Dr. Dog, Whitney and Local Natives. Noon-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $65 single day; $112.50 two-day; $229 two-day VIP; additional fees for camping and parking permits. Renaissance Park, 10542 E. State Route 73, Waynesville, bellwetherfest.com.
EVENT: Perseid Meteor Shower at Fernald Preserve
Head to the Fernald Preserve Visitors Center in Hamilton for a prime view of the Perseid Meteor Shower. The 2018 shower takes place from July 17 to Aug. 24, as the earth passes through the debris path of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Skygazers may see the most action during the overnight on Aug. 12 and early morning of Aug. 13, but you can still see plenty of the meteor shower before and after that, including during this special viewing. The Cincinnati Astronomical Society will be at Fernald to discuss the ins and outs of the shower and they’ll also have telescopes on hand for guests to view Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. The event is open to the public. Bring a chair or blanket to sit on, snacks and a relaxing attitude to just chill out and stare at the night sky while the universe provides the entertainment. 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday. Free. Fernald Preserve Visitors Center, 7400 Willey Road, Hamilton, 513-648-3330, lm.doe.gov/fernald.
Dreamed of becoming a Pop star? It’s not as easy as it might seem, as evidenced by this behind-the-scenes look at the music industry of the 1960s. It’s the story of The Dreams, a Motown-styled Rhythm & Blues group that might remind you of The Supremes. The singers start out as friends, but their relationships go downhill as their success takes off. The 1981 Broadway hit (six Tony Awards) became a hit 2006 movie featuring Jennifer Hudson and Jamie Foxx. Local actor Torie Wiggins is directing this production. “Her brilliant sense of storytelling will make this show really pop and connect with audiences,” says Maggie Perrino, the Carnegie’s theater director. Through August 26. $30; $27 members; $23 students. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington, thecarnegie.com.
MUSIC: Jon Spencer
The first third of brilliant writer/director Edgar Wright’s 2017 film Baby Driver is superb, thanks mostly to the tone-setting opening car chase scene soundtracked by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s mid-’90s classic “Bellbottoms.” As an introduction to (or reminder of) Spencer’s full-throttle, re-urbanized Blues Rock detonations, the adrenaline-juicing coolness of that scene was perfection. Spencer’s career is far from limited to the Blues Explosion’s peak years. His innovative explorations of the sleazier, seedier side of Noise and Garage Rock with his ’80s band Pussy Galore paved a yellow brick road for offshoots like Boss Hog (his group with wife Cristina Martinez) and Royal Trux, not to mention a legion of other groups formed by Pussy Galore devotees. Spencer’s current tour is in advance of a new solo album, Spencer Sings the Hits!, which is due this fall on In the Red Records. When Spencer comes to Cincinnati he’ll be joined by a pair of local acts that have certainly been touched in some way by Spencer’s vastly underappreciated influence — All Seeing Eyes and Stallone N’ Roses. 8 p.m. Friday. $15; $18 day of show. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, woodwardtheater.com.
FILM: Labyrinth in Eden Park with Jake Speed & The Freddies
Summer is winding down and there are only so many free movies in the park you can catch before football season rolls back around. This time, the Goblin King will grace the screen at Seasongood Pavilion in a showing of the classic ’80s Jim Henson/George Lucas fantasy film, Labyrinth. Secure your spot and enjoy pre-show tunes courtesy of Jake Speed & The Freddies, one of Cincy’s resident vagabond Bluegrass Folk groups. Fireside Pizza will serve slices to keep your hunger at bay while you “dance magic, dance” to sounds of David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King. 7-11 p.m. Friday. Free. Seasongood Pavilion, 950 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, facebook.com/mtadamscinemainthecity.
COMEDY: Nate Bargatze
“I like to think of myself as a storyteller, but in joke form,” says comedian Nate Bargatze. The son of a successful magician, Bargatze’s first foray into comedy was via improv with a friend. The format wasn’t for him, but he soon discovered stand-up. These days, he covers topics ranging from travel to science. “I don’t believe in science,” he says. “I don’t understand it, so it’s easier to just not believe it.” He gives an example of why he feels this way. “I read where they said cockroaches are 350 million years old. Are they? Or do you know that I don’t know how to go figure that out?” Bargatze has logged numerous appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Conan, and his fanbase includes fellow comics Marc Maron and Jim Gaffigan. 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday. $20-$50. Funny Bone Liberty, 7518 Bales St., Liberty Township, liberty.funnybone.com.
MUSIC: TajMo: The Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ Band brings masterful Blues to the Taft Theatre. See more info here.
EVENT: 1940s Day
Some people long to have been born in a different era, seeing it through rose-colored lenses and sometimes forgetting about the realities of decades past. Luckily, we have things like 1940s Day, so we can swing dance with our honey and wear fun vintage clothes without dealing with things like, you know, World War II, polio or the struggle for civil rights. Just for a day, the Cincinnati Museum Center is turning back time at Lunken Airport. Check out a vintage car and plane show, shop from vendors like Casablanca Vintage, strut your stuff in the costume contest, check out historic displays, take a group photo to commemorate the passing of Naomi Parker Fraley aka Rosie the Riveter and of course, dance your way through the decade to Swing, Big Band and Andrews Sisters-style music all day long. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. $10 adult; $5 child; free for veterans and Museum Center members. Lunken Airport, 262 Wilmer Ave, East End, cincymuseumcenter.org.
EVENT: Cincinnati Leather 2018
The first Mr. Cincinnati Leather was awarded his title in 2012 at the downtown bar On Broadway, where the competition was founded by bar owner Randy Bridges. On Broadway has since closed, but Cincinnati Leather lives on as an annual celebration, showcasing Cincinnati’s leather community (a sexy subculture that uses leather clothing for erotic play). In some ways it’s just like a beauty pageant — competitors entertain the crowd, show off their best outfits and give tear-jerking speeches. In other ways, well, let’s just say that “evening wear” has an entirely different meaning here. Instead of elegant gowns, these guys are strapped up in their absolute best leather get-ups. Cheer on Mr. Cincinnati Leather hopefuls as they show off for the judges and compete for that oh-so-coveted title. For ages 21 and up. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. $10; $100 VIP. The Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatileather.com.
EVENT: The O.F.F. Market
This friendly neighborhood market offers the perfect opportunity to try specialty food and craft beer while shopping for goods from a selection of independent small businesses, artists and farmers. All the vendors at The O.F.F. Market (aka Oakley Fancy Flea Market) are from the surrounding regions and have a variety of items for sale such as jewelry, pottery, textiles, art and more. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. MadTree Brewing, 3301 Madison Road, Oakley, theoffmarket.org.
SPORTS: Western & Southern Open
It’s tennis season and the Western & Southern Open is one of the last big events before the end of summer. This century-old tradition is the nation’s oldest professional tennis tournament held in its city of origin. Qualifying games begin on Saturday and advance to the finals on Aug. 19. Men’s and women’s competitions feature top-ranking 2018 player entry lists with names like Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep and Roger Federer. Along with tennis, the venue has a food court with local bites, a wine garden, champagne bar, souvenir stands and even a family zone with games for kids. Through Aug. 19. $12-$110. Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason, wsopen.com.
EVENT: 2018 Queen City Black Comix Day
The Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance presents the third-annual Black Comix Day to highlight the region’s comic artists, illustrators and stars. Guests include cosplayer Matt “Sebastian” Hexx, artist Chad Taylor, digital artist Cydnee Burch, Jay B. Kalagayan of MeSseD comics and more. Listen, learn and ask questions at this event. 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Pleasant Ridge Library, 6233 Ridge Road, Pleasant Ridge, facebook.com/midwestbsfa.
MUSIC: David Byrne brings his American Utopia tour to PNC Pavilion. See more here.
MUSIC: Chicago quartet Ganser brings erratic New Wave Post Punk to the Northside Yacht Club. See more here.
ONSTAGE: Whisper House at Know Theatre
Know Theatre’s 2018-19 season opens with Whisper House, a truly spooky and wonderfully satisfying AltRock chamber musical. With music and lyrics by the Tony-winning composer of Spring Awakening, Duncan Sheik, and book and lyrics by Kyle Jarrow, the Tony-nominated bookwriter of SpongeBob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical, Whisper House is a heartbreaker, a toe tapper and a scary good time. Well-sung, well-acted, creepily unnerving and appropriately substantive, Know Theatre’s Whisper House is an entertaining blend of haunting music and strong characters, shining bright and hopeful against the dark. Read a full review here. Whisper House plays through Aug. 19 at Know Theatre (1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine). Tickets/more info: knowtheatre.com.