Art in the Park
Each September Kent Parks and Recreation brings 100 artists into Kent’s Fred Fuller Park to display their creative talents and sell photography, paintings, artful apparel, ceramics and pottery, drawings, jewelry, glasswork, metal and wood. Not to be outdone, the event also features live entertainment, children’s arts and activities, special demonstrations, food vendors, and the Sylvia Coogan Scholarship silent auction. Free admission and free parking.
For a City that prides itself on being slightly off-centered and quirky, hosting the international short film festival is a great way to show off. If you’re looking for mainstream formula plot lines of big studio movies, go to the multiplex — but if you want a chance to participate in the creative expression of independent film makers in an intimate setting go to the Annual Standing Rock International Short Film & Video Festival in Kent held at the Kent Stage. Independent short films from around the world are shown, including documentaries, animation, comedies, music videos, and dramas. This is an inside look at the world of innovative filmmaking that is always an audiovisual adventure. http://www.whosyourmama.org/Films.htm
Home for the Holidays House Tours
Each holiday season the Kent Historical Society arranges the Homes for Holidays walking tour which will give you a chance to get inside some of Kent’s favorite historic homes. The Kent Historical Society takes you in Kent’s most charming residences on a Saturday (from 11 am to 5 pm) and Sunday (from noon to 5 pm). It’s a great way to celebrate Kent’s heritage and take walk back through time. Courtesy of Kent Historical Society, http://www.kentohiohistory.org/
If you’re looking for a little nostalgic taste of the past, the Kent Historical Society sponsors an annual Ice Cream Social on a Saturday afternoon in August. At .25 cents a scoop for local Artic Squirrel ice cream, you can’t go wrong. The Kent Historical Society notes that in the old days ice cream socials were one of the few places where teenagers could publicly socialize with budding admirers. Some things never change.
Winter Ice Sculpting
Winter doesn’t stop outdoor events in Kent, they just require a shovel and an ice pick. Throw in a chain saw and invite some friends and you’ve got the annual ice carving exhibition held each February on a Saturday afternoon in downtown Kent. Watch in awe as talented artists create eagles, griffins and teddy bears from solid blocks of ice. Get out and cheer the Kent State carvers on as they try to defeat the Akron University students in carving the best ice sculpture. Hot beverages and foods are made available by local businesses. Sponsored by Standing Rock Cultural Arts.
Summer Heritage Festival
The Kent community’s signature summer festival, Heritage Fest, is typically scheduled around the July 4th holiday. With a start time of 9 am, the day long event will feature over 100 craft vendors, information booths and another 30 food vendors with something for every type of taste and appetite. There are activities for kids and live entertainment all day long on three stages. The event wraps up at 10 pm with fireworks downtown. Attracting 25,000 visitors, this is the summer festival not to miss in northeast Ohio.
In April of each year, Kent State University holds a spring party on campus that includes live stage shows as an end of semester celebration. The music event has been covered by MTV.
Rally in the Alley
Summer after-hours music series held in Acorn Alley in downtown Kent.
Monthly Community Dinners
If you ever wanted to understand Kent’s local global community, just drop in on one of the monthly community dinners held on a designated Saturday of each month. Sponsored by All Together Now, it’s likely the most eclectic mix of diners you’d ever find voluntarily coming together to share food, tell stories and engage in community building. Everyone’s welcome, all you need is a dish to pass, a curious mind, and an open heart.
Rockin’ in the West River Neighborhood
Mark you calendar for June for the annual Rockin’ on the River party in Kent’s West River Neighborhood. This neighborhood celebration is open to the public and provides live music to go along with a great selection of summer food and beverages to imbibe along the river’s edge.
St. Patrick’s Day
Kent’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities start early as the downtown eateries and pubs serve special breakfast dishes and beverages in St. Pat’s honor. Special musical visits, like the Bass Ale Bagpipers, have been known to show up as well. Get your green on and head downtown to start your St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish style!
Home Savings Bank Summer Plaza Concert Series
Each summer the Home Saving Bank sponsors a series of outdoor concerts on designated Thursdays evenings. It’s a great outdoor venue that is free to the public. Grab a chair and a friend and enjoy this free performance on the lawn at Home Savings Plaza in downtown Kent.
Home Savings Bank Summer Plaza Sidewalk Cinema
Sidewalk Cinema Outdoor Movies take place on the Home Savings Bank Plaza at dusk. All movies are free. People sit in the grass plaza with blankets and chairs, ready to settle in for the night’s entertainment. It’s a great time to catch a movie, enjoy some snacks and relax with your friends and family after a long day. Sponsored by Standing Rock Cultural Arts.
Festive Friday starts up with the summer season, so pull out your favorite Hawaiian shirt, flip flops and whatever else gets you moving, and get yourself to downtown Kent to enjoy live music at the Home Savings Plaza on designated Friday evenings. This is a free, all volunteer effort, so come support your downtown and your friends that are working hard at fun.
In the summer, the Haymaker’s Farmer’s Market is open on Saturday mornings in downtown Kent. Local farmers bring fruits, vegetables, flowers, breads, jams, plants, and a wide range of locally grown products. The market installed bench seating and they schedule live music to entertain. With its festive atmosphere and ecologically friendly mind set, the Haymaker Farmer’s Market represents the best of what downtown Kent has to offer. For the winter holiday season, the Haymaker Market moves indoors for a couple of weekends for last minute gift shopping.
On a Saturday in November, DICE sponsors the annual Cider Fest in downtown Kent. The family friendly event features live music, dance shows, pumpkin painting, cider press demonstrations, farmer’s market vendors and fresh apples from nearby Beckwith Orchards. It’s a great way to celebrate the Fall harvest.
Halloween isn’t just a holiday in downtown Kent, it’s an event. Halloween isn’t a planned City function; it’s something that happens on its own. The City cleans up afterwards and patrols the event with Police Officers to make sure that the costumed revelers stay safe. The crowd gets large and generally speaking the costumes are reasonably appropriate up until around 11 pm and then things start to become more adult oriented so plan accordingly.
For the younger kids, Kent Parks and Recreation has a great tradition of hayrides and a mini-haunted house tour at Fred Fuller Park. Main Street Kent also plans a range of family Halloween activities early in the evening in downtown Kent that has even included a Ghost Walk featuring Kent’s most haunting tales. With all that’s going on you’ve got no excuses not to have a full day of Halloween fun in Kent no matter what age you are.
Each year Kent State University honors the memory of the May 4th tragedy with a speaker series that typically features remarks on peaceful demonstration and civic discourse. The May 4th site is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and it is open to the public all year long. Guided walking tours with interpretive panels installed at seven stops along the walk mark the historic site. The panels feature pictures, maps and written descriptions. Each trail marker focuses on different key aspects and events from May 4, 1970. A video documentary and audio complement the tour trail markers. Notable civil rights activist and NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond narrates the tour for the documentary and audio. Visitors can listen to the audio narration at any time by calling 330-672-MAY4 (6294) via phone.
The City of Kent in partnership with a long list of community volunteer organizations and Kent State University host traditional Memorial Day (May) and Homecoming Day Parades (September/October) that run through downtown and feature local marching bands, floats, and everything in-between.
Northeast Ohio is just a short drive to Detroit and cars have always played a prominent role in the local economy and personal hobbies. Refurbished Corvettes, Mustangs and muscle cars are common at area car shows that are held during the year. One of the most popular, the British Invasion, is held at the grounds of the Masonic lodge in Kent and features restored antique British cars.
Wine, Art and Cheese Festival
Each summer Main Street Kent plans an annual wine and cheese tasting event in downtown Kent that includes live music and local artist displays. The wine tasting brings six of the best local wineries to share their vintage wines. Wineries include: Candlelight Winery, LaPorte Winery, Myrddin Winery, The Winery at Wolf Creek, Troutman Vineyards and Viking Vineyards.
Sponsored by Ray’s Place bar and grill, the Red Bull motorcycle jumping team put on a show in downtown Kent that electrified the fans. Reaching heights higher than the second floor buildings the event was a smash hit (figuratively not literally).
Budweiser Clydesdale Visits
Not a lot of cities get a chance to admire the Budweiser draft horse team up close and personal but lightning struck twice in Kent, and for the second time in as many years, Budweiser brought their Clydesdale team to make deliveries to local bars in downtown Kent the old fashioned way.
Festival of Lights
This family event will get you in the holiday spirit as you explore the many unique shopping options in downtown Kent. The event starts with musical entertainment and continues with the arrival of Santa. Families are encouraged to bring cameras for a photo with Santa. Free hot chocolate and doughnuts are available. The Theodore Roosevelt Aces Chorus performs Holiday music and horse carriage rides around downtown Kent is provided. Sponsored by Kent Area Chamber of Commerce.
Community Day is a once a year grass roots celebration of fun, food and fellowship. It’s an outgrowth of the monthly Community Dinners that bring together Kent folks of all races and nationalities to break bread around the dinner table out of the belief that sharing food is a great way to be reminded of our common humanity — from which we build the bonds that give meaning to the word community. (It’s a pretty philosophical kind of group.)
Kent Blues Festival
Two days in July Kent is filled with smooth and soulful music during the Kent Blues Festival. Music enthusiasts from all over come to hear bands play. Free shows are featured all over in downtown Kent venues for music lovers to enjoy. Sponsored by Crooked River Fine Arts Council
Who’s Your Mama Earth Day Festival
Where can you see new eco-documentary films, solar and wind displays, a building with a geothermal well built into it, stilt walking dancers, and an F-250 pick-up truck that runs on french fry grease from Ray’s Place? Where else but at downtown Kent’s Who’s Your Mama Earth Day Festival in April. The Who’s Your Mama Festival is modern flower power at its best. This annual event has grown into a full blown enviro-fest with a little bit of everything green. While its heart and soul may be in Birkenstocks it’s got something for the sneaker and workboot crowd too. Kent’s environmental legacy stretches way back so it’s no surprise that Kent throws a great environmental bazaar. http://www.whosyourmama.org/
Annual Vegan Iron Chef Competition
This annual event kicks-off the Who’s Your Mama Festival in April. The purpose of the competition is to educate the public about the health benefits of a vegan diet, both personal and ecological. Students from Kent State University and The University of Akron prepare vegan dishes that highlight special dietary needs as well as provide an alternative to a meat based diet. The foods they create serve as samples for the audience to taste. Appetizers, salads and desserts are featured. Several local stores are invited to set up and offer samples of their vegan goods. The Main Competition is a 4 hour event that includes an emcee and speakers, 8 pro chefs, 6 teams of student chefs, a garden display, and 8 judges. http://www.whosyourmama.org/VeganIronChef.htm
Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held around February 12th, the day that Charles Darwin was born on in 1809. Specifically, it celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin — the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. More generally, Darwin Day expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity. Kent State University, through the efforts of the Biology Graduate Student council, hosts a series of events designed to increase the public understanding of evolutionary processes and to celebrate the life of this great English naturalist.Is the Outdoors your Thing?