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Monday, October 3, 2011

Sometimes Festival Hopping Doesn't Go As Planned.

With as many festivals as there are in Ohio, I sometimes get rather ambitious. That's especially the case now as the core of the season is coming to a close and festivals explode all over the state one more time for a last hurrah.

Of course, now that fall is upon us, the days are getting shorter and the festivals sometimes only last a day, usually ending by 5. Throw in some rainy weather and it can make scheduling a festival trip rather frustrating.

This last weekend, I decided to check out 5 festivals, traveling all day Saturday to see them. I knew it was ambitious, but it seemed doable.

The festivals were in the following cities:
1.) Huntsburg
2.) Mesopotamia
3.) Hartville
4.) Mineral City
5.) Shreve

And, on a map, it looked like this...

Ambitious, but doable.

I made for an early start and drove into Amish Country, arriving first in Huntsburg by 10:30 while some vendors were still setting up.

It was rainy, windy and chilly, but there was still a decent amount of people at this small town festival.

I took my photos, talked with some people and everything seemed to be going well.

With some pumpkin goodies in hand, I headed off to festival #2...

...driving 15 minutes further to Mesopotamia.

Here, I loved the town's touristy charm...

...with that old-fashioned facade...

...Amish buggy sign...

...a world's record (largest) horse and buggy...

...and a general store...

..with more cute stuff inside...

...quirky entertainment...

...and tons of (soda) pop.

But after my tour around the store, I directed my attention back to why I was here. There had been no obvious sign of a festival huge banners or vendors or rides for the kids. All the cars I saw in the town parking lot were owned by shoppers, not festival-goers.

So where was the festival?

I asked a girl at the ice cream counter where Mesopotamia Heritage Day was taking place...

...and she directed me to Town Hall...

...where a craft fair took place.

Even with the fry pies and the musical entertainer (who sold CD's) in the lobby... still wasn't a festival... I hung my head and continued on to Hartville where a festival was taking place in the parking lot of...

...the Hartville Market Place (a huge flea market type mall).

But I didn't see a festival taking place here either.

I walked inside for information and eventually checked the website on my phone...

...only to read this.

My spirits were suddenly draining and I was getting hungry.

Now passed two o'clock, I had originally planned on eating lunch in Mesopotamia when I realized there was no festival, only to continue on to eat in Hartville. By the time I was looking at the menu in the Market Place, I was telling myself that there was a huge Amish restaurant outside that I could check out instead.

But, of course, when I went to that restaurant, the line was absolutely long and overwhelming...

...especially for someone on a schedule to check out two more festivals and drive a few hours back home!

So I got back on the road, searching for some quick fast food before going on to Mineral City...

...and I drove to the Portage Road exit in North Canton for some Wendy's.

This was a mighty mistake!

Not only was it rainy, but it was traffic-filled, thanks to a huge shopping area.

Now really hungry as I first headed toward Wendy's, I suddenly changed my mind and headed toward Giant Eagle (grocery) for the possibility that they might be grocery store sushi in this North Canton location.

But I switched lanes too late and had to turn around before waiting in traffic again until I found the correct entrance. I wasted valuable time in the process...

...but was lucky enough to find some decent grocery store sushi.

While eating quickly in the car, I now faced a dilemma: it was 3 o'clock, my enthusiasm was gone, I knew I wouldn't make the Shreve festival in time (they ended at 5), and the Mineral City festival was an hour further away still (and with a $5 admission).

I sat there in the car, thought for a few minutes and initially drove toward Mineral City...

...only to change directions and wander aimlessly down country roads.

I passed through Navarre and Wooster along 250, enjoying the winding roads, green hills and occasional family of ducks and ducklings that waddled along the side of the road.

I stopped at Grandpa's Cheese Barn in Ashland, getting some cheese and learning that they stopped making their delicious pies.

I then decided to cut up 511, until I was eventually stopped in Nova... a passing train.

As this moving obstacle ran before my car, I thought about my day and how nothing seemed to go right.

Rain, cancellations, traffic and indecision turned my 5-festival day into a 1-festival day and, although I felt that I had accomplished nothing, I knew that my disappointment was created only by myself.

Only I had put such an obligation upon one else had.

I had to remember that I had already done more than enough with my festival documentation. I didn't have to prove myself to anyone.

Instead, I just needed to remember why I was doing this in the first place: to visit these Ohio communities, meet new interesting people and enjoy my adventures (sharing them was secondary).

Sometimes I forget this.

Of course, life has a way of reminding you of what's important, as it did me...

That next morning, when I got in my car, the tire pressure warning light came on and I found one of my tires almost completely flat.

Later on, as my father and I changed the tire...

...we found that the thread had separated.

Thinking of my long drive the day before and the various horrible endings that could have resulted from that tire, I thought less of the festivals that I missed and more on how fortunate I really was.

Suddenly, the day seemed like a really fortunate one...

...and I felt truly blessed.

I still do.


  1. Wow.
    I've had fest-going days that were a bit like this.

    My personal record is seven fests in one weekend. I've attended more than 60 fests and events since the end of April.

    As this summer ended and the weather got rainy, I was scrambling to find a few more fests to hit before fest season ended, I found myself experiencing exactly the same feelings that you felt.

    It came to a head one rainy, cold day when I was feeling the beginnings of a cold and was trying to drag myself out of the house to go to one or two far-away fests.

    It was a really weird feeling. Feeling like I was letting someone down. But again, my whole summer fest quest was a construct invented by me. I realized this and made my peace with staying home that day and going to a small, nearby fest the next day.

    Now I've settled down and decided to slow down a bit, as I blend the last few fests of the season, at a more reasonable pace with the events of the Halloween season.

    After all, I have to get some rest before NEXT SUMMER!

    Happy travels!

  2. The desired response may not be laughter but I laughed. Sorry you had a sucky day for sure and enjoyed reading your story. :)

  3. Great pics! Sorry it didn't go as planned, but definitely lucky. Happy you didn't get stranded.

  4. great blog concept. i'm looking forward to following yours and looking into some near me!