Greater Cincinnati festivals: What’s happening with 18 big events this year

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Ohio Challenge 2018

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Large festivals, which were virtually wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, have started to return to the Greater Cincinnati region for this spring and summer.

Here’s a look at what is happening on the big event scene this year.

Asian Food Fest

This annual food festival celebrates the cuisine of Cambodia, China, Hawaii, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Status: Postponed. Asian Food Fest will return to 2nd St. between Elm and Walnut Streets in downtown Cincinnati on Aug. 7-8, 2021. In light of recent events, the 2021 fest will feature new interactive, educational features to promote unity. For more information, visit www.asianfoodfest.org.

Appalachian Festival

This annual Cincinnati fest features three days of mountain arts and crafts, live entertainment, and living history demonstrations.

Status: Canceled. Organizers didn’t feel it was safe enough yet to reopen. Look for the Appalachian Festival on Mother’s Day Weekend, 2022. For more information, visit www.appalachianfestival.org.

Buckeye BBQ Festival

This two-day food and music festival features the best in pulled pork, ribs, and brisket, live blues and soul music (a new band every hour), and lots of beer, wine, and soft drinks.

Status: Canceled. The Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty tried for a fall date, but most of their vendors and musical talent are already contracted to other festivals by that point. The fest hopes to return in May 2022. For more information, visit www.buckeyebbqfest.org.

Oxford Beer and Wine Festival

This festival, taking place in Oxford’s historic district, features craft beer, a variety of fine wines, live music, art, vendors, and food in a college town atmosphere.

Status: Postponed. The festival will return on Oct. 9, 2021. For more information, visit www.oxfordwinefestival.com.

Taste of Cincinnati

This annual culinary arts festival typically features a 5K run/walk, several stages of live entertainment, the famous Veggie Races and, last but certainly not least, scores of fine restaurants of various style and ethnicities.

Status: Postponed. The Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long Program provided grant funds to nearly 800 restaurants, who in turn offered special deals to their customers. No new date for the conventional event has been given as of yet.

Summerfair

This bucolic outdoor annual festival features live music and fine arts and crafts by local, regional, and national artists..

Status: It’s on! Summerfair runs June 4-6 at Coney Island. COVID-19 protocols for the fest are TBA. For more information, visit www.summerfair.org.

Bunbury Music Festival

A three-day music festival featuring A-list headliners each night and diverse supporting lineups of up-and-coming bands and singer/songwriters throughout each day.

Status: Postponed, possibly canceled. Festival organizers announced last January that they wouldn’t make the usual summer date. While 2021 hasn’t been officially ruled out, there has not been an update since. For more information, visit www.bunburyfestival.com.

Lebanon Country Music Festival

This annual country music festival celebrates country music, family activities, and unique Lebanon shopping.

Status: It’s on! The fest returns to downtown Lebanon on June 11-12. 9Eight Central and Jessie Lyn & the TNT Band will be performing. For more information, visit www.mainstreetlebanon.org.

Celtic Fest Ohio

This multi-faceted festival celebrates all aspects of Celtic culture. There are live bands, including perennial favorites such as Dulahan, whiskey tastings, Scottish and Irish dancers, and the usual esoteric attractions such as the Border Collies and the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment Encampment.

Status: It’s on! Celtic Fest Ohio will take place June 19 at the Ohio Renaissance Fairgrounds in Waynesville. Covid restrictions will be in place, including limited capacity, no entertainment where social distancing can’t be practiced, patrons must be masked at all times except when eating and drinking or when social distancing can’t be maintained. Visit www.celticfestohio.com for more info.

Jungle Jim’s International Beer Festival

This annual beer fest typically features over 400 beers from 100 breweries, where you can sample imported, national, and local beers.

Status: Canceled. Jungle Jim’s will not be holding any of their annual summer events in 2021. There’s no further information at this time. For more information, visit www.junglejims.com.

Taps, Tastes, and Tunes

This annual West Chester Twp. festival is three days of local craft beer, local food, and live music.

Status: It’s on! The fest takes place July 2-4. Use the Cox Road entrance to the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting.

Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival

This annual festival is a sanctioned hot air balloon racing competition. You can also take a balloon ride yourself (tethered or untethered), check out the car show, listen to live music, ride carnival rides, or watch the skydivers, balloon glows, and fireworks displays.

Status: It’s on! The fest takes place July 17-18 at Smith Park in Middletown. For more info, visit www.ohiochallenge.com.

Cincinnati Music Festival

Every July, Paul Brown Stadium is rented out for this three-day festival featuring A-list R&B, gospel and soul acts.

Status: Canceled. The new date is July 21-23, 2022. Attempts are being made to retain the originally scheduled 2021 artists, including Janet Jackson and Snoop Dogg. There will be a virtual event that pays tribute in July to the past 60 years of the festival. For more information, visit www.cincyfestival.com.

Butler County Fair

The annual Butler County Fair attracts 100,000 visitors each year, with its rides, games, livestock exhibits, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, rodeos, the Cincinnati Circus and, most importantly, the classic fair food.

Status: It’s on! Butler County is tentatively planning on having a full fair on July 25-31. For more information, visit www.butlercountyfair.org.

Hanover Wine Festival

This mom-and-pop winery located between Hamilton and Oxford throws a festival every August featuring wine (notably their own), live music, and food trucks.

Status: It’s on! The festival is scheduled to take place Aug. 6. Details are TBA.

Ohio River Paddlefest

This popular annual event allows outdoor enthusiasts to paddle down the idyllic Ohio River past country that has remained largely unchanged in the past 100 years.

Status: It’s on! Masks will be required on the boat ramp, on the shuttle bus, and anywhere social distancing is impossible. (Masks are not required on the river). No tables will accommodate more than ten people and tables will be socially distanced, hand sanitizers will be readily available, and surfaces will be regularly disinfected. For more information, visit www.ohioriverpaddlefest.org.

Great Inland Seafood Festival

The only seafood event where you can eat fish that was alive in the water just the other day and where you can get a Maine lobster for $10.

Status: It’s on! The fest is scheduled to take place at the Newport Festival Park on Aug. 12-15.

Ohio Renaissance Festival

This 30-acre, 16th-century English village features a medieval marketplace, full contact jousting, games, rides, entertainment, and themed weekends.

Status: It’s on! Masks will be required at all times except when eating and drinking or when social distancing can’t be maintained. There’ll be limited daily attendance, limited people inside booths, hand sanitizing stations, and touchless temperature checks at first aid booths. The fest runs weekends from Sept. 4-Oct. 31. For more information, visit www.renfestival.com.

Kentucky-based country/gospel band Pistol Holler performs at the Lebanon Music Festival. ARCHIVE PHOTO
Kentucky-based country/gospel band Pistol Holler performs at the Lebanon Music Festival. ARCHIVE PHOTO

Authentic Irish music, dance and food were featured at the Celtic Fest Ohio in Waynesville from June 16-17, 2018. ARCHIVE PHOTO
Authentic Irish music, dance and food were featured at the Celtic Fest Ohio in Waynesville from June 16-17, 2018. ARCHIVE PHOTO

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Balloon enthusiasts gather for the balloon glow during The Ohio Challenge hot air balloon festival Friday, July 19, 2019 at Smith Park in Middletown.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Balloon enthusiasts gather for the balloon glow during The Ohio Challenge hot air balloon festival Friday, July 19, 2019 at Smith Park in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Scenes from the Butler County Fair Tuesday, July 28, 2020 in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Scenes from the Butler County Fair Tuesday, July 28, 2020 in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham