This summer's fairs and festivals season gets off to a very merry start on Saturday.
It will seem a lot like Christmas in Medina as Santas from across the country gather in the community's historic square. The city's resident year-round Christmas museum, Castle Noel, is playing host to members of the Midwest USA Santa Community.
The jolly fellas will parade around the square starting at Castle Noel, 260 S. Court St., at 10:45 a.m., then stroll along the sidewalks. The museum will host an hour of fun from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a story hour, a singalong, activities and photos. From 1 to 2 p.m. there will be face painting, cookie decorating and a coloring contest. The Elf Labs offering fun with science will be open for $4.
Castle Noel's museum will open for tours from 2 to 4 p.m. with a $5 special discount for kids' tickets. Santa will make an appearance at the museum's Alien Vacation Mini Golf from 2:15 to 4:30 p.m. And from noon to 5 p.m. there is a Santa Scavenger Hunt in businesses around the square, where elves are hidden. Pick up entry forms and instructions at the Castle Noel Gift Shop.
Last year's gathering attracted 65 Santas.
This weekend, Mother Nature cooperating, the cherry blossoms take center stage around Barberton's Lake Anna. The community's annual Cherry Blossom Festival runs from Friday through Sunday with a variety of activities, food and fun. The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday.
For more, visit barbertoncherryblossom.com.
The following is a listing (by no means complete) of the big festivals and fairs on the calendar for the remainder of summer in and around Akron.
The street will be a stage June 1 when theater groups and performers descend on Akron's Highland Square to perform short works at Summit StageFest. For more, visit stagefest.org.
The Bath Art Festival is June 2 at Bath Community Park, 1615 N. Cleveland-Massillon Road. Admission is free. bathartfestival.com.
Wadsworth's Blue Tip Festival, to celebrate the community's historical past when it was home to a large match factory, will run June 18 to 22. The parade will be June 18. bluetipfestival.com.
The summer season starts at Hale Farm & Village with the Sow and Grow Farm Festival and Plant Sale on June 8 and 9. The historic farm and village will give guests the chance to step back in time. wrhs.org.
Rock the Docks around Springfield Lake will be June 27 to 30. There is fair food, rides, entertainment and fireworks June 29.
One of the area's premier art festivals, now in its 48th year, will be held over two weekends in the parking lot at Boston Mills ski resort. The first weekend for the Boston Mills Artfest is June 28 to 30. The second weekend is July 5 to 7. bmbw.com.
The city of Green's FreedomFest in Boettler Park is June 29. The fun begins at noon and ends with fireworks in the evening. www.cityofgreen.org/freedomfest.
Akron's annual Fourth of July festivities will kick off July 3 and run through July 6 as the Rib, White and Blue Festival takes over the street outside of Lock 3 Park. There will be food vendors, but the highlight will be the ribs from 11 Ohio and national BBQ experts. The city's "official" fireworks display will be July 4 with a performance at 8 p.m. by the 122nd Ohio Army National Guard Band. lock3live.com.
The first of two Italian festivals will be in Akron along Main Street at Lock 3 when the Italian-American Festival sets up shop from July 11 to 13. www.it-am.org.
The fun and Italian food moves to Cuyahoga Falls the following weekend. This year's Festa Italiana will be in the city's River Front festival space from July 19 to 21. festaitalianacf.com.
The Akron African American Cultural Association's annual African Festival comes to Lock 3 Park on July 20 and 21 with a variety of entertainment, booths, food and activities. akronafricanculture.com.
The Akron Arts Expo Weekend at Hardesty Park kicks off with the wildly popular Taste of Akron, which will run two nights this week, with restaurants offering samples from 6 to 10 p.m. July 25, and food trucks doing the same July 26. Wine and beer tastings will be offered both nights. The Arts Expo is July 27-28, which will bring in more than 150 artists and crafters, along with music, food and children’s activities. akronartsexpo.org.
Craft beer lovers rejoice as the Blues & Brews festival presented by Thirsty Dog Brewing Co., Winking Lizard and the city of Akron returns Aug. 3 to Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron. More than 40 Ohio craft beer breweries will be on hand. lock3live.com.
Want to see double? The Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg — billed as the world's largest annual gathering of twins — is Aug 2 to 4. twinsdays.org.
The Taste of Ireland festival will be in Akron's Lock 3 Park from Aug. 16 to 17. The festival promises Irish music and food. lock3live.com.
Football takes center stage as the sport's best gather in Canton for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with a preseason game (Atlanta Falcons vs. Denver Broncos on Aug. 1) and other festivities, including the Balloon Classic and the region's longest parade. Festivities run from July 21 to Aug. 5. The parade kicks things off July 21. profootballhof.com.
The Akron Fulton International Airport will play host to the Props and Pistons Festival from Aug. 17 to 18. There will be flying demonstrations, aircraft on display and even cars. Displays range from current military, World War II warbirds, commercial and specialty aircraft. flyohio.wixsite.com/papf.
Music lovers will descend on Akron's Highland Square for the annual PorchRokr Music and Art Festival. Musicians will take over the porches of homes in the neighborhood on Aug. 17. highlandsquareakron.org.
The fourth annual Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival will be Aug. 24. For a listing of venues and concerts: www.rubbercityjazz.com.
Akron's Hardesty Park will host the Akron Pride Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m Aug. 24. The event includes food, music and a march. akronpridefestival.org.
Akron Pizza Fest will be Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 in Akron's Lock 3. lock3live.com.
Looking ahead, notable dates to mark on your calendar include the county fairs.
The Summit County Fair runs July 23 to 28 with the demolition derby on Wednesday night and the truck pull competition on Friday. summitfair.com.
The 174th Medina County Fair will be July 29 to Aug. 4. The headliner on July 31 is Jake Brown. Tickets are $33 to $38 at medina-fair.com.
The 161st Portage County Randolph Fair will be Aug. 20 to 25. randolphfair.com.
The Wayne County Fair, which bills itself as Ohio's Foremost Agricultural Fair, runs Sept. 7 to 13. The grandstand will host national acts, including Scott McCreery on Sept. 8, Roots & Boots featuring Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye on Sept. 9 and Randy Houser Sept. 10. Tickets for the grandstand shows will go on sale June 29. For more, visit waynecountyfairohio.com.
Craig Webb, who plans on having a steady diet of kettle-popped popcorn this summer, can be reached at email@example.com.