For many Ohioans, fall is the best season of the year, with warm clear days, comfortably cool evenings and colorful scenery.
That makes it perfect for a festival road trip, and the state has plenty – everything from pawpaw and apple-bobbing contests to the largest popcorn festival in the world.
TourismOhio has compiled a list of some of the top events to celebrate the season. Here’s a sampling, by region:
Ohio Renaissance Festival, now through Oct. 28 (Harveysburg):
Step back in time in a re-created, 16th century English village. Visitors can enjoy giant turkey legs and corn on the cob, but the real action takes place with nearly 100 daily shows on 14 stages. Check out the muditorium where classic literary tales come to life; appreciate the skill and sharp wit of the swordsmen; grit your teeth as jousting knights clash; relax with harp, guitar and dulcimer music; enjoy comedy opera; hold your breath during a comedy knife-throwing show and more. Spectators are welcome, but there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the fun.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Sept. 21-23 (Cincinnati):
The largest Oktoberfest in America, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati has showcased German-style music, food and beer to millions of attendees since 1976. Kick off the weekend’s festivities with the fan-favorite wiener dog race and stay for events like the World Brat Eating Championship and the Sam Adams Stein Hoisting Championship. Enjoy a variety of food and drink vendors, live music and more at this huge celebration of German heritage and culture.
Ohio Pawpaw Festival, Sept. 14-16 (Albany):
Learn about North America’s largest native tree fruit, including how to cook with pawpaws and how to grow them. There will be plenty of contests, too, from Best Pawpaw to a Devil’s Paw Home Brew contest along with Native American drumming, atlatl throwing and flint knapping. Little ones can enjoy “Kids Central” which offers a variety of hands-on activities for all ages, and everyone can catch beautiful fall foliage during the Pawpaw One Mile Fun Run/Walk that runs throughout the scenic park on Sunday. Pitch a tent and stay for the weekend, or spend a day listening to some of the region’s best musical talent while enjoying various pawpaw foods and crafting.
Jackson Apple Festival, Sept. 18-22 (Jackson):
Revel in all-things apple at this fun, free-admission festival. Marking 81 years since the inaugural event, this year’s Jackson festival promises fun for the whole family. Try a variety of tasty apple treats including homemade apple butter, apple pie and candy apples. See who can peel an apple the fastest or help break the world record for the most people bobbing for apples at two of the week’s several contests. Enjoy everything from music, food and rides to parades and crafts all week long.
Circleville Pumpkin Show, Oct. 17-20 (Circleville):
Drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, the Circleville Pumpkin Show is one of the nation’s largest pumpkin festivals. Kick off the weekend by watching contestants compete for the coveted Great Pumpkin Trophy and stay to see if the record, currently held by a nearly 2,000-pound pumpkin, is broken. Enjoy pumpkin-themed activities, foods ranging from pumpkin fudge to pumpkin burgers, multiple parades and rides and more than 400 booths.
Island Wine Festival, Oct. 6 (Put-In-Bay):
Enjoy a fall afternoon on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island at the annual Put-In-Bay Island Wine Festival. Sample foreign, domestic and island wines while savoring delicious food all day long. Be sure to catch a tour of the Put-In-Bay Winery and participate in the silent auction, benefitting the Lake Erie Historical Society. Admission comes with a free souvenir wine glass.
Oak Harbor Apple Festival, Oct. 13-14 (Oak Harbor):
Spend the weekend in Oak Harbor at the 40th annual Oak Harbor Apple Festival. Held downtown, this festival draws more than 25,000 visitors each fall. Find a partner and play in the cornhole tournament, check out the talent at the Apple Festival Craft Show and cheer on your favorites as they compete for best of show at the classic car show. Satisfy your sweet tooth with apple-related treats and make memories with plenty of live music, contests and activities for the whole family.
Barberton Mum Festival, Sept. 29-30 (Barberton):
Each year, 17,000 chrysanthemums create millions of mum blooms that burst open to adorn Barberton’s Lake Anna Park in waves of autumn colors. In addition to the views, families can enjoy everything from live music and food to arts, crafts and a variety of children’s activities. Make the weekend memorable by creating chalk art or participating in lakefront activities including a water-ski show and sand sculpting. Admission to this fun and colorful festival is free.
Heritage Days Festival, Sept. 29-30 (Malabar Farm State Park):
Uncover history at the 42nd annual Ohio Heritage Days Festival. A local favorite, families can participate in everything from live music to crafting while enjoying antique displays, tractors, horses and a variety of food and craft vendors. Learn about life at the time of the Civil War in the Civil War and 18th Century Living History Camp. Be sure to check out the archaeological displays available only on Sunday.