They come two by two from all over the world and even our own backyard.

This weekend the world's largest gathering of twins is in Twinsburg.

Friday through Sunday, anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 multiples will visit what is billed as the “Largest Annual Gathering of Twins in the World” by Guinness World Records.

The community festival is all about twins, but it is also all about the fair food, games, rides and entertainment.

Friday features registration, Jungle Terry, a DJ and a hot dog dinner. Saturday kicks off with the “Double Take” parade. Other activities during the day include twins contests, a twins talent show, a twins research area and the twins group photo. The night ends with fireworks.

The festival continues on Sunday with the Twins Days 5K Run and Fun Walk. For more, visit twinsdays.org.

This year's theme is Home for the Holidays and will include nods to Christmas (there will be a holiday tree), an egg hunt and even a holiday-themed scavenger hunt.

As in years past, the multiples who register to attend will be able to participate free of charge in medical and genetic research testing. What might take three years to complete elsewhere can be performed in a single day at the festival.

 

Bicentennial beginnings

The festivities date back to 1976 when the community looked for a way to celebrate the nation's bicentennial and being Twinsburg it only made sense to celebrate twins.

The first Twins Days Festival started with a flag-raising and dedication of the Wilcox Monument on the square and the dedication of the first picnic shelter at Glenn Chamberlin Park, which is home to the now much larger annual festival.

Festival office manager Sandy Miller has been around for all but one of the festivals. There was one year she missed when her family, which includes a now grown set of twins, went to Disney World.

She said for many the festival is a family reunion of sorts as friendships have been forged over the years.

"I wouldn't still be here after all these years if this wasn't fun," she said.

This year's festival will also offer a chance to remember those who have passed away.

There are a number of twinless twins who attend having lost a sibling.

Miller said there will be a memorial lantern launch at night to remember those who have died.

"It is a pretty rough thing for these folks to go through," she said. "They really feel like they have lost a part of themselves."

Over the ensuing 43 festivals, more than 77,000 sets of twins and multiples have attended, attracting national and international media attention, including those folks from Guinness World Records.

With anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 visitors to the festival each year, it is also an economic driver for the northern Summit County community.

An economic impact study of last year's festival by Kent State University economics professor Shawn Rohlin found the event brought more than $5.4 million into the local economy.

“The economic impact of the Twins Days Festival is quite considerable due to its ability to attract out-of-town visitors,” Rohlin said of his report. “Although the Twins Days Festival is a wonderful event for locals, its appeal to so many non-local visitors helps bring new money to the local economy.”

Through a survey Rohlin was able to estimate that non-local twin attendees spent more than $1.5 million at the 2018 festival, with other visitors to the area contributing more than $3.8 million to the local economy.

Of those visitors, 76 percent indicated that they spent an average of $150 at restaurants during their visit along with an average of $429 at hotels, another $106 on entertainment, some $135 shopping and $48 on groceries.

Miller said planning for the two-day event that is all volunteer-driven is a 12-month endeavor.

"This is like putting on a party for 25,000 people," she said. "This is really a labor of love."

 

Craig Webb can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.