It's summer's last big weekend: Don't blow it. Here are three picks for holiday happenings:
The Great Geauga County Fair
Yes, “great” is an official part of the name of the 190-year-old Great Geauga County Fair — the oldest and one of the biggest county fairs in Ohio. The five-day event in Burton features an overwhelming array of things to see, do, and eat. The most popular attractions involve vehicles doing things they’re better off not doing in real life: tractor and truck pulls (Sunday), FMX Freestyle Motocross (Monday), and of course the essential and wildly popular demolition derbies ( Saturday). For those who prefer their fair entertainment without ear-shattering noise and exhaust fumes, there are twice-daily performances by the Geauga County Fair Band, a group of amateur players founded in 1938 that performs traditional band tunes at festivals and parades throughout the summer. The obligatory country artist, performing in the grandstand at 8 p.m. Friday, is Chris Higbee. (It probably won’t help his cause to tell you that the Pennsylvania-born fiddler was a member of the Povertyneck Hillbillies, who were the official band of the Pittsburgh Steelers.) The fair runs from 9 a.m. to midnight today through Monday. Admission is $7; kids under 12 are free. Grandstand motor-sports events require an additional admission; buying tickets in advance is highly recommended (you can do so online).
14373 North Cheshire St., Burton, 440-834-1846, geaugafair.com
The Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest
The place to go this weekend for some serious outdoor eating is the Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. And you know Germans: They take their
food — and their beer — seriously. The offerings don’t stop at brats, sauerkraut, and Warsteiners — although if you don’t watch your intake, you may. Also on the menu are Polish, Italian, Asian, Hungarian, and soul-food treats, dished up by local restaurants like Der Braumeister, Seven Roses, Balaton, and Hot Sauce Williams. You can digest that food to an appropriate soundtrack, provided by bands ranging from Cincinnati’s lederhosen-clad Bier Band to Springsteen tribute Stone Pony. Wandering the midway between stops at food tents, you’ll also encounter the Frisch Marionette Company, a costumed human glockenspiel that activates on the hour, a sand sculpture of the Budweiser Clydesdales, wiener dog races, ethnic dancers from virtually any country you can think of, and the masskrugstemmen contest with qualifying rounds at 8:30 p.m. each day and finals at 4 p.m. on Monday. What’s that, you ask? It tests the athlete’s ability to hold a full beer stein in his or her outstretched hand. Top that, Olympians! Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. on Monday. Admission is $10; kids under 12 are free.
164 Eastland Rd., Berea, 440-348-0960, clevelandoktoberfest.com
Western Reserve Antiques Festival
More than 100 dealers from around the region converge on the Western Reserve Academy on Labor Day (Monday, September 3) for the annual Antiques Festival, bringing with them everything from pricey handcrafted furniture to inexpensive “smalls.” And there’s more to do than browse and yearn. Two experts from the Cleveland Museum of Art — curator of Greek and Roman art Michael Bennett, and senior librarian for research and public programs Louis Aldean — are among the speakers lined up to share their expertise. You’ll also find a classic car show, strolling Irish musicians, and walking tours of the Academy’s campus. (Plus, the eighth annual Taste of Hudson is taking place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. just up the street at First & Main, with live music, kids’ crafts, and tastings from more than 20 top restaurants; find details at tasteofhudson.com.) The Antiques Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 at the gate or via the website. Or cough up $15 for 8:30 a.m. early-bird admission and get first crack at the wares.
115 College St., Hudson, 330-247-8840, http://www.antiquesfestival.com/