End summer with a bang at these 5 Labor Day festivals

Crowds watch a past Riverfest fireworks from a park overlooking downtown Cincinnati. ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Crowds watch a past Riverfest fireworks from a park overlooking downtown Cincinnati. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The kids are back in school and fall (and inevitably winter) is coming. But instead of wandering around the house in mourning, check out these Labor Day weekend festivals that will provide you with one last summer hurrah.


Easily the biggest end-of-summer blowout in the Tri-State, this all-day music and food festival that hauls in a half million people every year on both sides of the Ohio River will climax with a 30-minute Rozzi Fireworks display. The theme for this year’s fireworks is “At the Movies.” Although the actual titles (and music) aren’t being released in advance, Aaron Klauber, the executive producer for Riverfest and the marketing director for iHeartRadio Cincinnati, said it won’t be too difficult to figure it out.

“We made sure we picked those that everyone would know instantly,” he said. “It’s classical music as well as rock songs from movies, and sound effects and quotes. Just Google the top 10 blockbusters of all time, and you’ll get a good idea.”

An alcohol-free event, Riverfest will also feature inflatables, vendor booths, live music and concessions. Several area restaurants will be holding special parties with admission fees that offer great views of the fireworks.

The party starts at noon, with WEBN’s KiddChris show broadcasting live from the Serpentine Wall. If you purchased a rubber duck from any area Kroger, you can participate in the Rubber Duck Regatta at 3 p.m. As many as 200,000 rubber ducks will be dumped from the Purple People Bridge into the river and will be flowed naturally into a bottleneck to determine the winners. Prizes include a 2017 Honda HR-V LX crossover SUV and $100 Kroger gift cards every week for a year, among others.

Want to Go?

WHERE: Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 3, noon to 10 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:05 p.m.)

COST: Free admission

MORE INFO: webn.iheart.com


Middletown’s popular scream park — which features four haunted houses in one location, plus a haunted trail and a zombie sniper patrol — opens for the season starting Friday, Sept. 1 (hours 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.) and will be throwing a special Rozzi’s fireworks party on Saturday.

According to Land of Illusion Marketing Director Brad Wydmore, the fireworks display will last about 25-30 minutes, and there will be live music and several lounge and fire pit areas where people can view them.

Or, if you’re a die-hard scare freak eager for your fix (“we’re the only haunt open this early,” Wydmore said), you can just keep right on negotiating the haunted houses, which are given a makeover every year, and the expanded Middletown Haunted Trail.


Want to Go?

WHERE: Land of Illusion, 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 2, 9-10 p.m.

COST: $20-$36.99

MORE INFO: 513-423-9960 or www.landofillusion.com


Although the Ohio Renaissance Festival enjoys a solid turnout throughout its seasonal run, Labor Day weekend is especially festive, not just because of the expanded weekend but also because every adult ticket is “buy one, get one free,” according to Marketing Director Cheryl Bucholtz.

As with every year, you can pick from 100 shows per day, including full-armored, full-contact jousting and dueling swordsmen. You can also interact with 16th-century peasants, storytellers and jugglers, shop for arts and crafts, and munch noisily on meat right off the bone.

Want to Go?

WHERE: 10542 E. State Route 73, Waynesville

WHEN: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Sundays and Labor Day Monday (then continues weekends through October)

COST: $22.50 (adults), $9 (children aged 5-12), and free for children 5 and younger

MORE INFO: 513-897-7000 or visit www.renfestival.com.


At over 50 years, the Hamilton-based Liberty Home Association’s Oktoberfest is the longest-running in the Tri-State. The fest will include German music, dancing, games, beer and, of course, lots of food, including metts, brats, cream puffs, sauerkraut, potato salad and more.

Want to Go?

WHERE: Liberty Home Association, 2361 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton

WHEN: Sept. 1-3, 6-11 p.m. Friday, 2-11 p.m. Saturday, and 1-10 p.m. Sunday

COST: $3 (adults). Children 14 and younger are admitted free

MORE INFO: 513-863-6912 or visit www.libertyhome.net/events.


For the remaining eccentrics who actually want to spend their Labor Day weekend doing healthy things, this campout weekend offers a variety of activities, including kayaking, archery, standup paddleboarding, a fitness hike and a wildlife excursion. Unfortunately, all of the camping spots are already filled, but the public is welcome to drive in and just spend a day at the park.

Fun Fact: In addition to the activities, according to Heidi Hetzel-Evans, Communications Manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, you can also rent one of the larger picnic shelters for the day if you want to bring a larger party (to party).

Want to Go?

WHERE: Caesar Creek State Park Campground, 9000 Center Road, Wilmington

WHEN: Sept. 1-4

COST: Free

MORE INFO: 513-897-3055 or parks.ohiodnr.gov.

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