No matter the time of year, nothing brings a smile to a face faster than having a good time at a festival. Ohioans love a good festival, and there are lots of weird festivals in Ohio for everyone to enjoy.
Some of these festivals pay tribute to fruits, celebrities, and animals, while other off-the-wall festivals celebrate washboards, duct tape, and the woolly bear.
But no matter the location and no matter the topic, they’re all about making sure that festivalgoers have a good time and continue longstanding festival traditions.
Twins Day Festival | Twinsburg
No, you’re not seeing double. Twinsburg in Northwest Ohio holds the largest gathering of twins and multiples in the entire world each August.
The festival schedule includes many events that are perfect for pairs, including a cornhole tournament, a 5K run/walk, a volleyball tournament, a golf outing, a double-take parade, a royal court, and much more.
Everyone can have fun here, and there’s always a theme to make the event even more lively. The 2023 theme was “Shiver Me Twinbers” and encouraged attendees to dress up in their best pirate garb.
Cleveland Kurentovanje | Cleveland
This annual February celebration of Slovenian culture in Cleveland may not necessarily classify as “weird,” but it remains a favorite for Clevelanders and Ohioans of all ages for its fun atmosphere and variety of events.
Past events at Kurentovanje have included a parade, a Kurent Dash 5K, exhibits of Slovenian art, wine tasting, Slovenian music, and much more. Even in the cold of February, the atmosphere is lively and attendees have loved celebrating Slovenian culture for more than a decade.
Washboard Fest | Logan
This annual June event celebrates the washboard and its place in American history. Logan Ohio, in fact, is home to the nation’s last operational washboard factory.
The washboard can be used to wash clothes, as a decorative piece of artwork, or even as a musical instrument, and the festival is one big celebration of this versatility.
The event lineup includes lots of live entertainment (including many washboard players), carnival-style games, a petting zoo, a washboard laundry station, a washboard train, a play area for kids, and much more.
Ashville Viking Festival | Ashville
Each April, visitors are encouraged to take a step back in time to the heyday of the Vikings. This festival combines family fun with historical encampments, so visitors feel like they’ve stepped into a historic Viking camp.
Entertainment includes belly dancing, full-armor jousting, music, magic, and more. Also, there’s a Saxon Market where attendees can buy the finest wares made by craftsmen, and, of course, feasting with vendors offering plenty of great eats.
The whole family can have fun here, and youngsters are even encouraged to trade small trinkets with participating vendors.
FireFish Arts Festival | Lorain
Each September, downtown Lorain becomes a center of arts and culture around the time of the full moon. The theme of the festival is transcending dark and light, and attendees, artists, and everyone else are encouraged to embrace the duality of darkness and light through music, food, and lots of fun.
Plus, the festival has a signature burning of the firefish, which includes a parade and lots of pageantry and performance. The festival celebrates the very best of Lorain and shines a spotlight on Northwest Ohio.
Yes, you read that correctly. Each June, festivalgoers congregate in this Western Cleveland suburb to celebrate duct tape. Avon is home to the company that makes Duck Tape brand duct tape, and even the most frequent festival attendees have likely never seen anything like it.
The festival includes giant life-sized animals, duct tape statues, a duct tape fashion show, parade floats, and much more. Additionally, there are plenty of food and drink possibilities, so visitors can enjoy good food and the endless possibilities duct tape can offer.
Annie Oakley Festival | Greenville
Held each July at the Darke County Fairgrounds, this festival is a celebration of Annie Oakley — one of Darke County’s most famous residents — and there are more events and contests than you can shake a stick at!
Attendees are invited to celebrate Western culture with musical performances, craft vendors, cowboy-mounted shooting, and much more.
This is a festival visitors of all ages can enjoy. Young ladies can participate in the Miss Annie Oakley marksmanship contest, and youngsters ages 3 to 5 can participate in the Little Miss and Mister costume contest.
Woollybear Festival | Vermilion
This decades-long October event always draws big crowds and was created with the help of legendary Cleveland meteorologist Dick Goodard to celebrate the orange and black caterpillar — or woolly bear — that emerges each fall.
It’s said that the more black the woolly bear has in its bands, the more severe the impending winter will be.
Ohioans celebrate the woolly bear each year with a festival that includes live music, a kids’ costume contest, woolly bear races, and dozens of food vendors.
Roy Rogers Festival | Portsmouth
For four decades each August, this Southern Ohio town has paid tribute to Roy Rogers, the famous singing cowboy who was known as the “King of the Cowboys.”
This festival celebrates the cowboy way of life, and that’s reflected in the schedule of activities, which includes celebrity guests — such as Roy Rogers’ family — a look-alike contest, live entertainment, food, vendors, and more.
While in Portsmouth, visitors of all ages can check out the Roy Rogers Museum, a fan-based museum that features lots of collectibles donated by fans.
Dyngus Day | Cleveland
One of the more interesting festivals in Ohio has many names, including Wet Monday and Smigus Dyngus. But each April, attendees gather in Gordon Square and other spots around town to celebrate Polish culture.
The celebration is packed full of activity and all the Polish culture a visitor could ever need — polka music, paczkis, pierogis, and live entertainment with DJ Kishka.
Dyngus Day only lasts for one day, but festivalgoers pack as much fun as they can into that day. With live music, delicious Polish food, and a relaxed vibe, you can’t go wrong.
Summer Moon Festival | Wapakoneta
Each July, visitors to this festival in West Central Ohio are invited to celebrate America’s first steps on the moon in astronaut Neil Armstrong’s hometown.
The festival includes events at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, an exhibit of world records set by Armstrong, a pickleball tournament, a Miss Summer Moon pageant, and photo opportunities.
Space is a topic that fascinates folks young and old alike, and Urbana is the perfect spot each summer to soak up the wonder of space by celebrating Neil Armstrong.
Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest | Put-in-Bay
Argh! For more than a decade, this June event celebrates all things pirate and invites visitors to strap on their wooden legs and pet parrots to join in the fun!
Activities include black powder firing demonstrations, a fun fest for kids, a pirate marketplace, and a whole host of tasty options from local eateries. The festival even includes a downtown pirate parade.
Visitors looking for a fun-filled family festival will find it here. It doesn’t get much better than dressing up in a pirate outfit and enjoying a summer festival.
Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival | Urbana
A fish and shrimp festival in Ohio? You bet! For more than 20 years, hungry festival-goers have flocked to Urbana for mouth-watering seafood offerings and family fun. In addition to shrimp, you can stop into the local fish farm market to sample a variety of smoked trout products.
In addition, the festival includes a sturgeon pool where you can pet the large fish, a trout feeding frenzy, live displays of different native critters, vendors, games, music, and more. You will want to come for the fish and shrimp, but stay for the fun.
Ohio Pawpaw Festival | Albany
The United States has lots of fruit festivals, but this one celebrates the pawpaw, one of the country’s biggest tree fruits. Southern Ohio is a hot spot for growing them, and they’re said to have a sweet, tropical flavor.
The festival, which occurs each September, features education on the history and sustainability of the pawpaw, including how to grow and cook it.
The event lineup features a pawpaw-eating contest, a pawpaw cookoff, competitions for the best pawpaw art, the largest and best pawpaw, and much more.
Last Stop Willoughby | Willoughby
One of the oddest reasons for a festival may just be Last Stop Willoughby, which takes its name from an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” The episode, entitled “A Stop at Willoughby,” is shown continuously at the Willoughby Library during the festival.
Also, the celebration includes dozens of vendors at the Willoughby Outdoor Market. Kids will delight in the fun at the Kids Zone, which features arts and crafts, face painting, and more. There’s an annual downtown parade where prizes are given for the best-decorated floats too.
Ohio River Sternwheel Festival | Marietta
This annual September celebration in Marietta Ohio pays homage to paddle-wheel boats, which can be enjoyed at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers. As a riverboat town, this is a beloved festival tradition.
Other festival activities include a Little Miss and Mister Pageant, live music, a Queen Genevieve Pageant, a coloring contest, a traveling exhibition from the Columbus Zoo, and much more.
In addition to the quality entertainment, more than two dozen authentic sternwheel boats line the riverbank during the festival — a testament to festival tradition.
Dean Martin Festival | Steubenville
Each June, Steubenville Ohio pays tribute to the King of Cool with a celebration of all things Dean Martin. The Rat Pack member began his entertainment career in Ohio clubs — including in Steubenville — and the festival began with help from Martin’s daughter.
Past festival activities have included live Dean Martin music, a Dean Martin singing contest, plenty of Dean Martin impersonators, a Grecian food festival — which includes a meatball eating contest — and a Dean Martin memorial mass.
Visitors can take a walking or driving tour of several landmarks in Steubenville that are relevant to Martin’s career as well.
Pickle Fest | Cleveland
This annual September festival is a big “dill” in The Land. For one entire day, a celebration of pickles takes over downtown Cleveland.
A pickle celebration might seem strange, but this festival combines food trucks, bands, contests, dozens of vendors, and so much more. What’s even better is that all proceeds benefit Greater Cleveland Volunteers.
Festivalgoers can dig into pickle foods like pickle pizza, pickle candy, pickles on a stick, and pickle ice cream. Those who really love crunchy dills can also participate in pickle-eating contests.
Cleveland Garlic Festival | Cleveland
As if pickles weren’t enough, Cleveland also celebrates all things garlic each August during what may be one of the Buckeye State’s smelliest festivals. Those who can’t get enough of garlic can dig into craft beers, garlic fries, and other garlic-flavored and infused goodies.
The activities are plentiful and cater to attendees of all ages. Visitors can enjoy a craft beer tent, a fun-filled kids zone, a Miss Cleveland Garlic Festival pageant, and much more. Smelly or not, the Garlic Festival is a heck of a good time.
Dandelion Festival | Dover
Every May, the hills of Dover’s Amish Country turn into a magnificent shade of yellow once thousands upon thousands of dandelions go into full bloom. That bloom is celebrated with plenty of family fun, delicious food, and even dandelion wine.
Visitors can stroll through vendor booths and enjoy culinary delights like dandelion sangria, dandelion lasagna, and even dandelion sausage. Kids can participate in a dandelion scavenger hunt, and there are cooking demos, a 5K, and much more for the whole family to enjoy.
RAMP UP Peninsula | Peninsula
Ohio has plenty of festivals celebrating fruits and vegetables, and Ramp Up honors the wild leek or ramp, also known to some Ohioans as “little stinkers.”
Ramps have grown in Appalachia for decades and give off a garlicky-onion flavor. They are celebrated by food vendors, artisans, and many more people who put on a wonderful celebration.
You can enjoy live music, guided walks, and much more. It’s a great way to experience a celebrated herb in Ohio and to experience a festival.
Ohio Sauerkraut Festival | Waynesville
This October celebration is another of Ohio’s smelly festivals, but the popular German cabbage is used to create a number of delicious food offerings. The festival regularly draws thousands of visitors and serves approximately seven tons of sauerkraut.
There are more than 30 food vendors on hand and past festival offerings have included sauerkraut ice cream, sauerkraut balls, pulled pork nachos with sauerkraut, and much more. Additionally, the festival includes live music and marching band performances, craft vendors, and much more.
Pork Rind Heritage Festival | Harrod
For festivalgoers who can’t get enough of Ohio’s food celebrations, the Pork Rind Heritage Festival offers plenty of good fun and food for all visitors.
The lineup of events, of course, includes the sale of pork rinds, live entertainment, helicopter flights, a beer garden, a tent with kids activities, and carnival rides.
This truly is a festival the whole family will love because there’s something for everyone. Visitors don’t have to go far to find some fun and leave with big smiles.
Skunkfest | North Ridgeville
Ohio has some stinky food festivals, but Skunkfest in September may take the cake. This annual event is a friendly gathering for both skunk owners and skunk lovers. The whole point is to have fun and discuss all things related to skunks.
In addition to vendors, food, raffles, and live music, there are skunk costume contests where owners are encouraged to dress up their black and white pets. The festival also includes the crowning of Skunkfest royalty, a Skunk Run, and so much more.
Buzzard Sunday | Hinckley
The first Sunday of spring (the first one that follows March 15) is designated as Buzzard Sunday in Hinckley in North Central Ohio.
In the late 1950s, a local patrolman clocked the return of turkey vultures to roost in Medina County each year on March 15. From then on, the return of the buzzards caught the attention of media, naturalists, movie and cameramen, and so many others.
Each year, the citizens of Hinckley and the surrounding areas celebrate the return of the buzzards with a pancake and sausage breakfast.
Valley City Frog Jump | Valley City
The organizers are all about getting visitors to have a good time at this July event, and they do it by offering tasty food, one-of-a-kind experiences, and much more.
The central event is the namesake frog jump, where participants (called jockeys) enter a ring with a frog and attempt to have the frog jump as far as possible out of the ring in three hops. Different flights are held until winners compete in a Grand Jump Off to crown champions.
This fun festival is a true blast where it seems impossible not to have fun.
Walleye Festival | Port Clinton
Nestled on the shore of Lake Erie, Port Clinton celebrates beautiful golden walleye each Memorial Day weekend. Along with lots of live music, the festival includes dozens of craft and food vendors, a grand parade, a fishing derby for kids, educational seminars, carnival rides, and a whole lot more.
For more than 40 years, festivalgoers of all ages have flocked to the Lake Erie lakeside for a good time, and that’s exactly what they’ll find here.
Melon Festival | Milan
Festivals are all about having fun, and businesses and residents of Milan are all encouraged to get in on the action during this annual late fall celebration.
In addition to celebrating the melon with offerings like watermelon sherbert and cantaloupe ice cream, residents are encouraged to decorate their homes or businesses for the festival and compete for prizes.
The festival also includes the crowning of a Milan Melon Festival Queen and the annual Melon Festival 5K Road Race, one of the oldest such races in Ohio.
Johnny Appleseed Festival | Lisbon
This September festival celebrates Johnny Appleseed, the legendary nurseryman who is said to have introduced apple trees to much of the Midwest, including Ohio. He is said to have started his first orchard on a farm in Licking County.
Past festivals have included a litany of fun events, including a grand parade, an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, live music, a royal crowning, an apple pie contest, an art show, and plenty more to entertain all attendees. Come prepared to have fun and celebrate an Ohio legend!
Make Plans to Attend Some Weird Festivals in Ohio
Whether you love deep-fried foods, live music, or just the lively, fun atmosphere of a festival, there has never been a better time to attend any one of these weird festivals in Ohio.
Quirky though some of them may be, these Buckeye State festivals offer fun activities for visitors of all ages. They’re steeped in tradition and fun that keep visitors coming back year after year.
Anyone who’s a longtime Ohio festivalgoer or anyone who’s looking for some new festivals to attend can visit these town festivals and come prepared to have a good time.