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SUMMER GUIDE: A FISTFUL OF FESTIVALS

2010's must-attend summer celebrations

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Rockin' on the River

May 21-Sept. 3

Falls River Square, Cuyahoga Falls

330-730-7591

rockinontheriver.com

Led Zeppelin, Queen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Journey, Jimmy Buffett, and even Aerosmith are congregating in Cuyahoga Falls this summer to blast crowds with their big hits. Well, it's actually their cover-band counterparts (ZOSO, Almost Queen, Blue Moon Swamp, Frontiers, Fins to the Left, and Draw the Line) playing the biggest weekly party on the Cuyahoga. But that's pretty awesome too. As Northeast Ohio's longest-running and highest-attended outdoor concert series, Rockin' on the River will feature 13 Friday-night concerts this summer, hosting the nation's top classic-rock tribute bands. Bring your family, feast on fair food, check out vendors selling shirts and jewelry, get an airbrush tattoo, and then kick back with a Bud (or perhaps something more exotic from the Beers of the World area) and howl "Free Bird!" during Vicious Cycle's set. It's OK, they're a Skynyrd tribute band. Admission is free.

Port Clinton Walleye Festival

May 27-31

Waterworks Park, Port Clinton

419-734-5503

walleyefestival.com

The walleye is quite a palatable freshwater fish, and in Port Clinton (known to anglers as the Walleye Capital of the World), it's an especially scrumptious finned favorite. For the past 30 years, Main Street Port Clinton has celebrated its fishy friend with the annual Walleye Festival at Waterworks Park on the shores of Lake Erie. It's a feeding frenzy of free concerts, rides, kids' activities, and more than 140 food vendors, many of them peddling delicious walleye (what else?) sandwiches. There'll be a walleye parade, kids' fishing derby, helicopter rides, petting zoo, and a tent full of live entertainment. Admission is free.

Marc's Great American Rib Cook-Off & Music Festival

May 28-31

Time Warner Cable Amphitheater,

351 Canal Rd.

440-247-2722

cleveland.com/rib

May is National Barbecue Month, and Cleveland celebrates its pork "chops" with one of the best BBQs in the Midwest. For four days, rib lovers can taste-test the best porkers around, then cast votes on Memorial Day for honors like greatest ribs, greatest sauce, and the people's choice award. Mix your pig with some tasty concerts too, courtesy of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (May 28), the Grass Roots and the Turtles (May 29), Dokken and L.A. Guns (May 30), and moe. and Rusted Root (May 31). In between the rock and ribs there's a variety of bone-a-fide fun, like NBA Nation (the ultimate basketball fan experience), Marc's Amateur Grilling Competition (local chefs demonstrating cunning culinary skills), and the Q104 Beer Slide (whip a mug of suds down the slippery bar and hit the bull's-eye). It's free until 3 p.m. each day. After that, admission is $5 with a coupon (available from Marc's or online).

The Riverfront Irish Festival

June 11-13

Falls River Square, Cuyahoga Falls

330-554-3083

riverfrontirishfest.com

The Irish are a very popular race — especially among themselves. Luckily, everyone at the Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront Fest has a little bit of Irish in their blood. Billed as the Midwest's largest free Irish fest, the celebration features three stages of music. The lineup includes the Glengarry Bhoys, the Killdares, Brigid's Cross, New Barleycorn, That Irish Band, Callahan & O'Connor, and any other band that sounds remotely Irish (including plenty of pipe ensembles). Ramble from stage to stage until you find the Irish Market Place, where you can load up on traditional Irish and American fare and catch some traditional Irish jigs by the MacConmara Dance Academy. If you need to work off a few pounds, try running the Riverfront Irish Festival 5K and one-mile Fun Run at 8 a.m. Saturday. There's a traditional Irish mass on Sunday, where all of your weekend sins will be forgiven. Admission is free.

Parade the Circle & Circle Village

June 12

University Circle, 1 Wade Oval Dr.

216-707-5033

universitycircle.org

Outside of The Music Man, most community marches bore us to tears, with one big exception — Parade the Circle. For more than two decades, Clevelanders have greeted the arrival of summer (at noon on June 12) with a parade of giant puppets, stilt-walkers, colorful costume characters, one-of-a-kind performance ensembles, and awesomely constructed floats, all marching through University Circle. Before and after the parade (which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), visit Circle Village's congregation of tents and booths featuring more than 30 museums, schools, churches, and community organizations. Make a puppet with the Cleveland Play House, create a green-themed craft with the Cleveland Botanical Garden, or fashion a dreamcatcher with the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Center, so you can collect all those memories. It's free.

Crocker Park Fine Art Fair

June 12-13

Crocker Park, Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake

440-871-6880

crockerpark.com

Matisse once opined, "I don't paint things. I only paint the difference between things." Those contrasts will be in full display at the annual Crocker Park Fine Art Fair, now in its fifth year. This year's event will bring more than 125 professional artists to town, turning the shopping mecca into an outdoor gallery of color and character. Paintings, jewelry, ceramics, glass, photography, and every other medium will be featured in a fair-like format, along with lots of children's art activities. Admission is free.

WOW! Wade Oval Wednesdays

June 16-Aug. 25

University Circle, 1 Wade Oval Dr.

216-707-5033

universitycircle.org

Wade Oval is ensuring every Wednesday is an outdoor gala where you can commune with nature and music. More than 10,000 visitors will leave life's baggage at home this summer and bring their families, friends, and blankets to dance, unwind, and enjoy the music. Surrounded by the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland Museum of Art, and Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Wade Oval is the perfect green space for a little music. It's particularly ideal for Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S Band, sending out relaxing reggae vibes on June 16, and the Speedbumps' acoustic folk on July 21. There will be 11 concerts in all, along with occasional movie events after the music (on June 30, July 21, and August 18), where you can munch on popcorn and yell out favorite lines from flicks like Raiders of the Lost Ark. Best of all, it's free.

Festival of the Fish

June 18-20

Victory Park, Rt. 60, Vermilion

vermilionohio.com

440-967-4477

The Festival of the Fish is all about pageantry (and, um, fish ... we think). This stately Vermilion celebration is one of the largest honoring Lake Erie culture on a grand scale, with parades, races, contests, food, and live entertainment. There's a Festival of the Fish Pageant on Friday, where "young girls vie for the coveted title of princess or queen," says spokeswoman Sandy Grisel. Saturday kicks off with a 5K run and one-mile walk, while nature engineers build spires in the Sand Castle Contest at Main Street Beach. The Crazy Craft Races follow at 1 p.m. on the Vermilion River, sure to be foiled by the Lighted Boat Parade later that night. On Sunday, the Annual Father's Day Parade honors dads at 12:30 p.m., with a Firefighters Water Fight immediately following. We assume fish are incorporated in some fashion as well. It's all free.

Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival

June 18-20

Veteran's Memorial Park,

37001 Detroit Rd., Avon

866-818-1116

avonducttapefestival.com

Duct tape is a lot like the Force. With its light and dark sides, it holds the universe together. Avon (home to Duck-brand duct tape) celebrates this cohesive power every summer with the awesomely bizarre Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival. This year's theme: Retro Rewind: Peace, Love and ... Duck Tape! Celebrate Dad's favorite accessory Father's Day weekend with a three-day psychedelic celebration hosted in the Duct Tape Capital of the World. It includes lots of traditional-festival stuff (rides, food, games, live entertainment), but with crazy duct-tape displays (including sculptures and fashions). There's also a tent where you can make a wallet, a rose, or Michelangelo's Pietà with sticky tape. Get there early: Free rolls of duct tape will go to the first 500 people each day. Plus, two new trippy colors will be unveiled: Totally Tie-Dye and Cosmic Tie-Dye. It's all free.

Lorain International Festival

June 21-27

Black River Landing, Downtown Lorain

loraininternational.com

For seven days in June, Lorain County becomes the U.N. of northern Ohio festivals, serving up international foods and worldwide entertainment. The spotlight is on Hungarian culture this year, so expect a lot of central European flavor. From Friday to Sunday, the Lorain International Association Bazaar will cook up all types of global gastronomy — 40 food vendors serving Greek, Chinese, Dutch, Vietnamese, Mexican, Polish, German, Portuguese, British, American, and (of course) Hungarian food. So grab some goulash and a beer and check out some ethnic entertainment, send your children to the Kid's Café, collect a few souvenirs, and watch the Lorain International Parade on Sunday. Before the weekend bazaar, there are a number of concerts and contests leading up to the fiesta, like Hungarian Cultural Night, a Heritage of Sacred Music Concert, and the International Princess Pageant. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7.50 for students.

Cleveland Wine Festival

June 25-26

Nautica Pavilion, 2014 Sycamore St.

847-382-1480

clevelandwinefestival.com

Pour yourself a glass at the fifth annual Cleveland Wine Festival, which offers a selection of 200 international, domestic, and Ohio wines and fine food from fancy local bistros. And with its new location at the Nautica Pavilion, the fest will pair food and wine tastings with education and cooking demonstrations along the mighty Cuyahoga. ("The relaxed setting takes the fear and mystery out of learning about wine," says organizer Scott Janess.) The festival's main stage will showcase live entertainment throughout the two-day event, which is all about dining on classy cuisine, sniffing corks, and sipping chardonnay, Riesling, zinfandel, pinots, cabernets, and everything in between — just like the ancient Romans used to do. Tickets are $25 advance, $35 at the door; designated drivers are $10.

Ohio Scottish Games

June 26

Lorain County Fairgrounds,

23000 Fairgrounds Rd., Wellington

440-835-9794

ohioscottishgames.com

There can be only one Ohio Scottish Games! Gather your friends, equip them with kilts, travel over rolling hills and glens, and watch countless competitions — ranging from pipe bands to crazy Scotch athletics like caber tossing and the hammer throw. See lads and lassies test their form in the Highland Dancing and Choreography Competitions, stepping the Sailor's Hornpipe, the Highland Fling, and (OMG!) the Sword Dance. Have a beer and stop by the genealogy booth to find out if you're really Scottish. Then enjoy music throughout the day, with bagpipe bands, Scottish fiddlers, and rock fusion from Needfire. "Needfire rocks, trust me," assures Highland dance teacher Sara Gilchrist. "It's great Celtic rock — the kick-ass kind." Tickets are $15 for adults, $2 for kids ages 6-12; littler ones get in free.

Rock and Soul Festival

June 27

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum,

1100 Rock and Roll Blvd.  

216-761-7625

rockhall.com

Ever since Michael Jackson started playing big gigs in the sky, he's become a saint down here on Earth. In fact, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is set to re-crown Jackson the King of Pop, honoring the two-time inductee's life, music, and legacy. The weekend of live music and programs is built around the Rock Hall's new Michael Jackson exhibit, which coincides with the first anniversary of his death. It culminates in the annual Rock and Soul Festival, a Black Music Month celebration that features performances by a bunch of artists, so expect some awesome MJ covers. The festival is free, but museum admission is necessary to tour exhibits: $22 for adults, $13 for kids.

Tall Ships

July 7-11

Cleveland Harbor, East 9th St.

216-241-6000

tallshipscleveland.com

Hoist the sails, landlubbers! The Tall Ships return to Cleveland for a sailing spectacle of historic proportions. Watch as 10 vessels representing maritime history — from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, Great Lakes trading schooners, Baltimore Clippers, and more — sail into North Coast Harbor. Where's the best spot to watch the ships sail through the harbor on the first day? "You won't find better seats than aboard the Steamship Mather," says Linda Abraham-Silver, president and CEO of the Great Lakes Science Center. All hands on deck! Tickets (which include ship-boarding) are $14, $12 advance. Tickets for Parade of Sail aboard the Mather are $10 and $15.

Cain Park Arts Festival

July 9-11

Cain Park, 14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Hts.

216-371-3000

cainpark.com/arts_festival.asp

Inner visions, ultimate expressions, and creations of the imagination — all will be on display and most will be for sale at the annual Cain Park Arts Festival. The park's arcadian atmosphere draws on the sophisticated tastes of Cleveland with a fine-arts and crafts show featuring 150 vendors. The festival hosts painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, glass, and more. Plus, zydeco star Terrance Simien makes some noise. Admission is free on Friday, $5 on Saturday and Sunday. Children 12 and under get in free.

Italian-American Council Festival

July 9-11

Lock 3, 200 South Main St., Akron

330-375-2877

it-am.org

As powerful as the Illuminati and as fun as the Freemasons, the Italian-American Council is expanding its influence with classes, cuisine, and contests. The tastes and smells of Italy will mix with the rubbery aroma of downtown Akron at the 63rd annual Italian-American celebration. Dabble in wine tastings, Italian cooking classes, bocce tournaments, car shows, and plenty of people watching, scored to a background of bands kicking out cover songs. For the bold, we suggest the pizza-eating contest, where man and pie fight for supremacy. There's also a 5K race, rides, spaghetti dinners, homemade-wine contests, Italian culture classes, and a Catholic mass. Amen. It's free.

Lakewood Streetwalk

July 17

Downtown Lakewood

216-521-0655

lakewoodstreetwalk.com

Lakewood expects more than 5,000 of its closest friends for the ultimate street party. Detroit Avenue, between Arthur and Marlowe avenues, will be closed from 3 to 8 p.m. so folks can skateboard, belly-dance, and whatever else they want to do while listening to live music, enjoying yummy food, and catching a Lake Erie breeze. Brave the rock-climbing wall, try to square dance, or watch the fencers, then check out cool shops like Plantation Home and grab something to eat at Melt Bar & Grilled. You'll get a real taste of Lakewood, where skateboarding and break-dancing regularly mix with historical societies, gay pride, and trendy gourmet coffee shops. Admission is free.

National Hamburger Festival

July 17-18

Lock 3, 200 South Main St., Akron

330-375-2877

hamburgerfestiVal.com

The burger nation — 25,000 strong and counting! — will unite in Akron under a banner of buns, patties, lettuce, bacon, tomato, onion, pickles, and cheese for two glorious days in July. Restaurants will vie for bragging rights in the National Burger Cook-Off's five categories, as 20 eateries serve more than 50 different kinds of burgers. The competitive spirit will continue with the Miss Hamburger Pageant, the Baby Burger Contest, and the Ohio Burger Cook-Off for backyard grillers. Things really get cooking as goggle-adorned enthusiasts go Bobbing for Burgers in a kiddy pool filled with ketchup. The illustrious Ohio Hamburger Eating Championship is always a highlight. Last year's winner, Akron competitive-eating legend David "Coondog" O'Karma, will return for a third year to defend his title. Tickets are $5.

BrookStock — A Celebration

of Music & Nature

July 17

Brookside Reservation

216-206-1000

clemetparks.com

BrookStock is a haven for tree-huggers of all kinds (nature lovers, animal lovers, and folks who just love being outdoors). Billed as a "Celebration of Music & Nature," BrookStock takes the concept of '60s-era nature parties to Brookside Valley, where music, arts, animals, and vendors mingle with Mother Nature. Pull up a tent, lawn chairs, or blanket and listen to music by the Silver String Band (bluegrass and jazz at 2 p.m.), Hey Mavis (Americana at 3:30 p.m.), and Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band (reggae at 6:30 p.m.). Jugglers entertain kids, jumpy types check out live snakes, and everyone eats snow cones and burgers. To savor the natural experience, we suggest you buy a shirt from EarthWords for $5 and create your own unique BrookStock tie-dye T. Instant souvenir! Admission is free.

AKRON ARTS EXPO

July 22-25

Hardesty Park, 1615 W. Market St., Akron

330-375-2835

akronartsexpo.org

If "down south" means Akron to Northeast Ohioans, then there's no better place for southern cooking, culture, and hospitality than the Akron Arts Expo weekend. Taste of Akron gets things cookin' on Thursday evening with free admission, reasonably priced food samples, and a steak-grilling competition for backyard chefs. Friday night features a posh wine-tasting and silent auction with more than 150 wines and international beers. Light entertainment and tempting nibbles round out this upscale event ($40 for one ticket, $75 for two; proceeds support local arts). On Saturday and Sunday, it's all about the arts — and fun, with a juried arts-and-crafts show, the wonders of the Whimzy World kids' area, costumed characters, wandering musicians, free admission, and plenty of tempting munchies.

IRISH CULTURAL FEST

July 23-25

Berea Fairgrounds, 164 Eastland Rd., Berea

216-251-1711

clevelandirish.org

The 28th annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival features wall-to-wall Celtic fare — from Irish coffee and homemade scones to flouncing kilts and pipes and drums. There's even a bevy of Irish dogs to meet. Weekend entertainment includes ballads by Clevelander Mossy Moran and a host of other Irish talent, including locals Pat Campbell, Turn the Corner, Michael Crawley, and Detroit group the Kreellers. Entertainers hailing from Erin proper are Johnny McEvoy, Don Stiffe, Susan McCann, and Patrick O'Sullivan. The God Squad activities heat up on Sunday with a mass that gives more than a message: For every festivalgoer arriving before 11:30 a.m., the festival committee will donate $1.50 to St. Patrick's Bridge Avenue Food Bank — just one of the local charities that will benefit from this popular weekend-long event. Admission is $10.

BURNING RIVER FEST:

CHRISTMAS IN JULY

July 24-25

Coast Guard Station, Whiskey Island

216-771-4404

burningriverfest.org

Whiskey Island has seen its share of Cleveland history. The tiny bit of land was named for a distillery and was once home to more than a dozen saloons that serviced the city's working-class Irish. After its neighboring river famously caught fire in 1969, Uncle Sam instituted Earth Day. Cleveland has a green day to mark the event too, but we do it with really good beer and a big-ass party with music, good eats, and great beer, like Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale. The entertainment includes lots of homegrown artists, including Anne DeChant, Lords of the Highway, Alex Bevan, the Magpies, and the Smokin' Fez Monkeys. Proceeds benefit the Burning River Foundation. Admission is $10, kids under 12 get in free.

NATURE AT NIGHT

July 24

Metroparks North Chagrin Nature Center,

3037 Som Center Rd., Willoughby Hills

440-473-3370

clemetparks.com/events/naturenight.asp

We sun-worshipping humans can get a taste of the dark side when the Metroparks come to life at night during North Chagrin Nature Center's Nature at Night. On tap: live nocturnal animal programs, telescope fun, puppet shows, a campfire blazing with lore and song, crafts, and night hikes. The adventurous can attempt the nocturnal maze, where nighttime animals lurk, and after-dark snacks — like BBQ pork and mac & cheese — will be on hand. It all culminates with a screening of Night at the Museum on the lush lawn beneath the dusky sky. It's free, it's fun, and there's always tomorrow night to catch up on the shut-eye.

ALL NIGHT SKATE

July 31-Aug. 1

Ashtabula Roller Den, 2255 West Ave., Ashtabula

440-964-8200

rollerden.net

There's no guarantee how moms and dads will roll with this event, but tweens are going to love it. For just $12, they can glide all through the night, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The über-skate will be full of races and contests: a watermelon-eating contest, an ice cream-eating contest, a baby-bottle contest, a hula-hoop contest, a biggest bubblegum-bubble contest, a jump-rope contest, and even a hillbilly race. The snack bar will be open all night, just in case kid fuel is needed in the form of hot dogs, slushies, cotton candy, and the like. And oh yeah, admission for uncool and bleary-eyed parents is free. Quad skate rental is $2, inline is $3.

KELLY MILLER CIRCUS

Aug. 1

Richfield Town Hall,

4410 W. Streetsboro Rd., RichField

330-659-9018

kellymillercircus.com

For all you run-away-with-the-circus wannabes, here's your chance. You'll probably have to wait until they complete both 90-minute shows and start pulling up stakes, but hey, that's a small price to pay for the chance of a lifetime. You're in good hands. After all, the Kelly Miller Circus has been doing this since 1938. And when the fleet of 25 vehicles pulls into town, you've got one heckuva circus. They've got a tent. They've got a ring. They've got it all — elephants, bareback riders, high-wire motorcyclists, clowns, tigers, and a juggler or two. Who can resist? Admission is $14 adults, $7 for kids.

VINTAGE OHIO

Aug. 6-7

Lake Metroparks Farmpark,

8800 Chardon Rd., Kirtland

800-227-6972

visitvintageohio.com

Living in Northeast Ohio has its challenges. Our river caught fire, our biggest city went into default, and there's the (ahem) Browns. But are you listening, New York? Hey, California? Ohio's got wine! That fact is never more regally celebrated than at the annual Vintage Ohio, where 20 Ohio wineries show off the fruit of their vines this year. In addition to the vino, the event features live entertainment on three stages, mostly of the jazz, blues, R&B, and acoustic varieties. (Sumrada, Forecast, After Thought, Neil Jacobs, and Brian Henke represent just a sampling of the featured performers.) Area restaurants will sell burgers, kabobs, shawarma, gyros, custards, and even homemade fried cheese from Antone's (mmm ... fried cheese). Good thing you can shake off some of the indulgence during the Cornhole Tournament or the 5K Run for the Grapes. Admission is $27; kids get in for $3.

SUMMER BEACH PARTY

Aug. 7

Huntington Beach,

between Columbia and Crocker-Bassett,

off Lake Road, Bay Village

216-635-3200

clemetparks.com/events/summerbeach.asp

A day at the beach is just a day at the beach — unless you stretch it into night and add a steel drum band. Then you've got a bona fide party! Throw in some sandcastles and volleyball, and you're practically going Gidget. There's fishing and kayak demonstrations too. Live animals will be along for the fun; so will a dive-team exhibit. The University of Akron Steel Drum Band will provide the sounds, Big Show caterers will be hawking snacks, and those trusty Girl Scouts will be selling goodies. The event is free, but space is limited, and registration is required for some activities. Try not to get too much sand in your skivvies.

DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL

Aug. 7

Powerhouse, 2000 Sycamore St., the Flats

216-221-1389

clevelanddragonboatfestival.com

Put 20 rowers, one drummer, and a badass steersman in a 40-foot boat alongside a bunch of other boats just like it on the Cuyahoga River, and you've got one fierce event. Dragon boats have been around for more than 2,000 years in China, but they have only one day of celebration each year in Cleveland. The Dragon Boat Festival features some high-energy competition, with the focus on fun and teamwork for rowers of all ages. (Teams participate to raise money for the Gathering Place.) If you want to enter, it's $850 per team of 21 or more, but you can watch for free.

ASHTABULA COUNTY FAIR

Aug. 10-15

Ashtabula County Fairgrounds,

North Poplar St., Jefferson

440-576-7626

ashtabulafair.com

Get out your pocket tees and John Deere hats — this fair has the ability to redden the necks of even sushi-eating, chardonnay-sipping urbanites. Trucks? They got trucks: There's a truck show, a truck and tractor pull, and a rough-truck contest (with both kinds — your stock and your modified). Don't cotton to trucks? Then dig some tractor: They got stock tractors, garden tractors, and modified tractors. Then there's your motocross, your demolition derby, Granpa Cratchet's Show, all manner of critters, and a hypnotist to boot. There's plenty of fun for the li'l shavers too, with a midway chock-full of thrill rides and contests of the bubble-blowing and watermelon-eating sorts. Admission is $8.

CUYAHOGA COUNTY FAIR

Aug. 9-15

Berea Fairgrounds, 164 Eastland Rd., Berea

440-243-0090

cuyfair.com

This venerable event began back in 1893 and continues to be a summer staple for Northeast Ohioans. Live music will keep feet stompin', while 20 flashing midway rides dazzle the kids, and the demolition derby makes a metal mess out of a bunch of cars. And did someone say food? In addition to such irresistible fair standards as funnel cakes and corn dogs, more than 100 food stations boast tempting ethnic fare like chicken paprikash, cabbage and noodles, and gyros. Arts and crafts, kids' activities, square dancing, harness racing, produce and animal shows, motocross, the Hall of Flowers, a haunted house — and what would a fair be without the boom of fireworks? The Cuyahoga County Fair has it all and then some. Admission is $6.

OKTOBERFEST

Sept. 3-6

Berea Fairgrounds, 164 Eastland Rd., Berea

clevelandoktoberfest.com

This year's Oktoberfest features one of the most famous Germans of all time. No, not the mean guy with the mustache; the serious one with the piano: Beethoven! On Sunday, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra will perform Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Orchestra members will be available before the concert to meet with kids, who can try out an instrument or two. Other musical fare includes local bands the Spazmatics, Disco Inferno, and the Breakfast Club. Stone Pony, a Springsteen tribute band, will perform on Friday. Many other acts will grace the four venues. There's also beer, brats, and a microbrew competition, along with the Oktoberfest 5K Bier Run to help you sweat off all the extra calories. Well, you might have to run a bit farther on your own to burn all of it off. Admission is $8, kids under 12 get in free.

TASTE OF CLEVELAND

Sept. 3-6

Time Warner Cable Amphitheater

at Tower City, 351 Canal Rd.

440-247-2722

cleveland.com/tasteofcleveland

The annual Taste of Cleveland has featured many of the city's hidden bistros, notable restaurants, tiny cafes, and neighborhood favorites. They've come together since 1995 to serve up bite-sized eats from around the globe and around the corner. The four-day feast encompasses ethnic cuisine, comfort food, and decadent desserts. This year's lineup is still taking shape, but if it's anything like last year's — which included more than 30 eateries like Fat Fish Blue, the Taste of Soul, and the Transylvania Bakery Shop — it's sure to please. After all, 89,000 people attended the 2009 Taste of Cleveland. In addition to all the great eats last year, attendees jammed to headliners Peter Frampton, Lita Ford, and Billy Squier. Cooking demonstrations and other activities round out this irresistible event. (Admission prices aren't available yet.)

SEASON-LONG EVENTS

FESTIVAL SEASON AT NELSON LEDGES

12001 Rt. 282, Nelson Ledge Rd., Garrettsville

440-548-2716

nlqp.com

Nelson Ledges Quarry Park is a Northeast Ohio institution — particularly for the patchouli and dreadlock set. You'll find heaven on earth here, played out during summer weekends filled with camping, music, icy cold ones from the cooler, and a crystal-clear quarry for swimming. Most of the festivals are multi-day events. Ticket prices depend on when you get there and how long you stay. A weekend pass includes camping, swimming, and music, music, music. The 2010 season is filled with hippie-happy festivals. Here's a sample platter: Jonesfest is lined up for Memorial Day weekend; the Sublime Summer Starter and Floyd/Zeppelin Classic Fest will highlight June. July will feature Gratefulfest and the Summer Hookah Weekend. Look for the Midwest Reggae Fest in August, as well as Summerdance III. Much, much more, along with daily swimming, hiking, and outdoor fun.

OUTDOOR FLEA MARKET

AND CRAFT SHOW

May 29-Sept. 4 Saturdays

Geneva-on-the-Lake Recreation Park, 5536 Lake Rd., Geneva-on-the-Lake

800-862-9948

visitgenevaonthelake.com

OLD FIREHOUSE CRAFT FAIRS

May 29-Sept. 4,

Saturdays and select Sundays

The Landing Festival Marketplace, Lake Rd., Geneva-on-the-Lake

440-466-9300

oldfirehousewinery.com

FLEA MARKET

May 29, July 3, Sept. 4

Indian Creek Resort, 4710 Lake Rd., Geneva-on-the-Lake

440-466-8191

indiancreekresort.com

GENEVA'S DOWNTOWN SIDEWALK SALES

July 30-31

Downtown Geneva

440-466-4675

visitgenevaoh.com

Whether you call yourself a bargain hunter (polite) or junk-picker (honest), you've never witnessed the marriage of "torn" and "frayed" played out with more poetry than when flea markets and Geneva-on-the-Lake combine. In this unlikely Lake Erie oyster, you will find outdoor sales abounding throughout the season. That they unroll along the leather-clad, Harley-humming strip makes it all the much better. And where there are bikers, there's cold beer and hot fries at every turn. You won't go hungry. Most of the events are free, but contact venues for specifics.

BEREA FAIRGROUNDS FLEA MARKETS

Through October,

most Saturdays and Sundays

Berea Fairgrounds, 164 Eastland Rd., Berea

cuyfair.com

440-554-1449

If you're an old-timer weeping nostalgic tears at the mere thought of the defunct Memphis Triple Flea Market, prepare to inflate with joy. Well, inflate with something — perhaps untold mountains of fabulous flea-type acquisitions from the fairgrounds, where many of the Memphis Triple vendors are rumored to have taken up shop. This is the real deal, where commerce meets streetwise in the most organic sense. It's $1 to get in.

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