Rocky island waterscapes, beautiful boating backgrounds, sketches of drunken college co-eds -- the Erie islands provide plenty of postcard vistas. The two-day Watercolor Workshop around Put-in-Bay offers expert instruction in painting some of South Bass Island's most eye-catching landscapes. Noted watercolorist Clela Stenicki has geared the class toward both novices and experienced artists. If you plan to stay the night on the island (the classes take place on a Wednesday and Thursday), we suggest camping out at one of Put-in-Bay's snazzy bed and breakfasts, like the Getaway Inn (419-285-9012) or Ashley's Island House (419-285-2844); both will be offering special rates.
$45.00 per day, reservations required; 419-285-2804
10th Annual Phlocking of the Phaithful, June 10-13
The four-day Buffet bash drawing hundreds of Parrotheads to South Bass Island -- this is truly the definition of an island-roaming Put-in-Bay party. You'll hit swiggeries like Mr. Ed's Bar, Skyway Restaurant, and the Put-in-Bay Brewery, and raise margaritas to such Buffet-inspired bands as Latitude, Junkanoo Brothers, Boat Drunks, and Don Middlebrook and Living Soul. The fest begins Thursday at 2 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Jonathan Powell Hope Foundation (promoting leukemia research) and Wings for Children (providing free medical airlifts to children with life-threatening illnesses). Do it for the kids.
$75; 412-221-5219, www.phlocking.com
Founder's Day, June 20
Señor José DeRivera, the swashbuckling Spanish merchant who bought South Bass, Middle Bass, and a slew of other Erie islands for $44,000, inspired many of the island communities famous today, including Put-in-Bay. So the city celebrates his vision each year with Founder's Day in DeRivera Park. Kids will be out in force, conquering games like the ringtoss while eating treats like tasty homemade strawberry shortcake from St. Paul's Church. Parents can get their fill at the ox-roast picnic lunch. Catch the antique-car parade, where more than 100 beautifully restored automobiles will drive home the island's local spirit. Insider tip: Scour the flea market. Island gift shops will be dumping old stock at outstanding prices.
Put-in-Bay Chamber Five-Iron Golf Classic, June 27
All you need is a five iron, a putter, and a little luck. That's the idea behind the Five-Iron Classic, an island golf tradition at Saunders Resort for the last 10 years. This nine-hole tournament brings together Northern Ohio's most adventurous duffers, battling winds and unpredictable weather with two clubs and maybe a beer. Around 20 four-person teams will compete for braggin' rights and prizes like golf bags, windbreakers, and even a luxury car (in a separate hole-in-one competition). Prizes, greens fees, and player kits are all included in the $160 team fee. And don't worry if you've never played the course; holes are moved before the tournament, so everybody's on a level playing field. Tournament runs from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Put-in-Bay Fourth of July, July 4
Nothing's more American than foreigners. Hit Put-in-Bay on the Fourth of July and watch 15 or 20 immigrants get sworn in as American citizens. The service begins at 11 a.m. at the Perry Peace Memorial, a monument commemorating Oliver Hazard Perry's drubbing of the British flotilla in the War of 1812. A parade follows, and fireworks begin at dusk.
Historical Society Island Home Tour, July 14
Visit the 19th Annual Island Home Tour and learn how South Bass inhabitants survive in their island dwellings. Visit four island houses on two tours. Drop in on an Italian Villa at the end of Langram Road near the South Bass Island Lighthouse, explore a newly enlarged historic home on Catawba, discover an expansive log cabin across from Maple Leaf Cemetery, and then delve into the Anchorage house and gardens on East Point. Hosted by the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society, the two tours go from 10 a.m. to noon and then continue at 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Insider tip: This event always sells out quickly.
$30, 419-285-2804, www.leihs.org
Butterfly & Dragonfly Census, July 17
Every July ("swarm season"), insect aficionados leave their nests for the Fourth of July Butterfly Count program. Around 500 butterfly counts occur throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, promoting insect conservation by assessing butterfly populations. Kelleys Island will be a part of this year's count; amateur naturalists will scour the countryside to count the local species. Team Butterfly meets at 9 a.m. at the island's Old Stone Church. Bring $5 for the local chapter of the National Audubon Association. Insider tip: Though indigenous to the Great Lakes region, the rare Karner Blue butterfly has never been spotted on the island. Collectors are hoping to run into one this year.
Islandfest 2004, July 23-25
For a full weekend each year, Kelleys Island transforms into party central. The tradition is called Islandfest 2004, and it's so much fun that the kids will be dancing in the streets. No really -- Division Street will be blocked off Friday night at 7 p.m. for a street dance. On Saturday morning, catch the Islandfest parade, then the waterfront craft fair, kids' games, and lots of food. By nightfall, you should be ready for another evening of festivities, topped off with music, more food, and fireworks. Sunday's schedule is similar, ending with long, drunken goodbyes.
Christmas in July, July 23-25
Begun as a Round House Bar tradition 16 years ago, Christmas in July is a three-day theme party. Friday evening starts off the Christmas festival with the luminous Bay Parade of Lights, where boats of all sorts, festooned with a variety of festive light fixtures, sail from Gibraltar to Put-in-Bay. On Saturday, downtown will be decorated to the hilt with lights, tinsel, ornaments, and Christmas trees. Most restaurants and bars will be decked out too. Insider tip: Get there early Thursday evening for the comical reindeer games -- teams of four people are tethered to a golf cart, while another person does the driving.
Kelly Miller Circus, August 9-10
The show travels with a fleet of 25 vehicles and sets up over 90,000 square feet of live animal acts, feats of acrobatic derring-do, and carnies straight out of a Ray Bradbury novel. Let your kids ride an elephant, whoop it up with clowns, brave the forebidding "Snakes Alive" booth, or just sit and watch jugglers and animal tamers. Kelly Miller provides a good blend of concessions and carnival magnetism, which makes for a fun and interesting island atmosphere.
$10 for adults, $6 for children, 419-746-2360, www.kelleysislandchamber.com
Homecoming, Kelleys Island, August 21
Like most homecomings, this festival begins with a parade, which travels down Main Street. Later, the area will be chockablock with craft booths, food stands, and kids' games. There's also music from bands such as the North Coast Band and the Red Hackle Band. Insider tip: Visit Mona Rutgers' Back to the Wild display on the indigenous plant and animal populations.
MBI Classic Volleyball Grass Tournament, August 21
Come see scantily clad gals and guys whacking big white balls back and forth at the Second Annual MBI Classic, being held at St. Hazards Resort on Put-in-Bay this August. Six-on-six teams will play a single-elimination tournament, using U.S. Volleyball Outdoor Rules and playing on grass courts. Divisions will range from fun-loving recreational teams to the open, semiprofessional squads. Around 500 participants played last year's MBI Classic. The tournament will start at 10 a.m. and run till 8 at night. Insider tip: Hit the party the night before at St. Hazards.
$180 per team, 216-267-4340, www.volleyballassociates.com
Real Ohio Tour of Glacial Glimpses, August 29
Kelleys Glacial Grooves State Park isn't your average nature trip. The park contains the largest "easily" accessible glacial footprints in the world, scoured into solid limestone bedrock 400 feet long, 35 feet wide, and up to 10 feet deep. Visitors can trek the grooves to the North Shore Loop and will also get a chance to explore the Kelleys Island Alvar -- a rare botanical community on the shore, which hasn't changed since the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Participants meet at the Glacial Grooves parking lot on Kelleys Island State Park. Pat Hayes will lead the tour from 1 to 4 p.m.