2011 Festival Guide

The 2011 summer festival season is already upon us. Here's the lowdown on enjoying three months' worth of cultural celebrations all over town.

Jun 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

June 18-19

For the 24th year, the JUNETEENTH festival will celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and provide a chance to reflect upon Cincinnati’s unique heritage as the gateway to the North for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. Young and old alike will parade through the park showing the colors of more than 70 countries, representing lands from which Africans were captured and enslaved and their destination points. Experience entertainment all day on two stages, culminating with a finale show at Seasongood Pavilion at 6:30 p.m. featuring The Deele and Slave. Bring the young ones along to the extensive kids area, which includes free horse rides by the Cincinnati Urban Cowboys, area museum exhibits, health screenings and much more. Festival events will take place Saturday, followed by a Father’s Day Concert on Sunday. 12:30-9 p.m. June 18; 3-6 p.m. June 19. Seasongood Pavilion, Eden Park, www.juneteenthcincinnati.org.

June 23-25

It’s the biggest on-water festival in the Midwest and, for that matter, the nation. The Ohio River Way PADDLEFEST brings more than 2,000 canoeists and kayakers to the Mighty Ohio every year. The party starts with the Kids Outdoor Adventure Expo 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 23 at Coney Island. The Ohio River Music & Outdoor Festival is scheduled for June 24 until 9 p.m., featuring kayaking clinics, tournaments, outdoor gear sales and exchanges, music and more. The event closes June 25 with boat races and floats from Coney Island to Yeatman’s Cove, where a final Finish Line Festival will take place. 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.

June 24-27

Is your mouth watering yet? It will soon — the PANEGYRI GREEK FESTIVAL is approaching. Mountains of goodness in the form of souvlaki, gyros and dolmas will be 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. June 24; 3-11 p.m. June 25; and 1-8 p.m. June 26. Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 7000 Winton Road, Finneytown, 513-591-0030.

July 1-4

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 1 with music by Moonshine Drive, Magnolia Mountain, The Dukes and others. Enjoy a full evening of bands as well as kinetic test-of-courage performances by local acts such as the Pickled Sideshow Brothers July 2 and 3. The parade will take place at noon July 4 along Hamilton Avenue. Activities by Happen Inc will follow in the park until 4 p.m. You’re gonna have a ball. Free. 6 p.m.-1 a.m. July 1-3; noon-4 p.m. July 4, Jacob Hoffner Park, Northside, www.northsiderocks.com.

July 8-10

The CINCINNATI EQUINOX PARADE AND FESTIVAL kicks off Friday July 8 with the Equinox Pub Crawl from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Hop on one of three shuttles, which will make 15 stops to 19 bars between Northside, Downtown and Northern Kentucky. The totally fabulous Pride Parade steps onto Fifth Street at the Procter & Gamble towers at 1 p.m. on Sunday July 10 and marches to Fountain Square, where the Pride Festival immediately commences. 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 8-10. Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-591-0200, www.equinoxcincinnati.com.

Aug. 5-6

The 19th 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. Four 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. $15 admission for adults; kids 12 and under are free, and discounts for Blues Society members. 5 p.m.-midnight Aug. 5 and 4 p.m.-midnight Aug. 6. Bicentennial Commons, Sawyer Point, Cincinnati Riverfront, www.cincyblues.org.

Aug. 5-7

If you’ve never tasted 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 replace. 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’s also a redesigned goetta vending machine and a wide selection of local beer. Admission to the festival is free. 5-11 p.m. Aug. 5; noon-11 p.m. Aug. 6; and noon-9 p.m. Aug.7. Newport Riverfront, Newport, www.goettafest.com.

Aug. 19-21

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 youth activities. The idea is to celebrate the strengths of the black community and bring people and organizations together to strengthen the African-American family. This year’s theme is “Families Helping Families.” A Rhythm & Blues performance Saturday and a Gospel concert on Sunday night round out the event. Aug. 19-21. Most events are free and take place at Sawyer Point on the downtown riverfront. Visit www.midwestbfrc.com for details.

Aug. 26-28

Cincinnati’s favorite suburban festival, THE TASTE OF BLUE ASH, returns for its 26th year with all the classic rock and festival kitsch we’ve come to love. The Devonshires, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo perform Friday evening, and Saturday’s headliner is Hotel California (Eagles tribute) followed by the popular 70’s/80’s sensation REO Speedwagon. Bob Seger tribute band Hollywood Nights and Creedence Clearwater Revisited rule the stage 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, Parker’s Grill, Chef’s Choice Catering and more. Free. 6-11 p.m. Aug. 26; noon-11 p.m. Aug. 27; and noon-9 p.m. Aug. 28. Blue Ash Towne Square, Hunt and Cooper roads, Blue Ash, 513-745-8500, www.blueash.com.

Sept. 4

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.

Sept. 11-12

The 18th 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.