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9 Undeniable Signs That Nobody Does Summer Like Ohio

More like the MidBEST, amirite?! Book your trip now to see how the heartland does summer.

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1. Dublin Irish Festival (Dublin, Ohio; August 4–6)

Why It's Unmissable: From German Village to Little Italy, Ohio is a melting pot of global cultures. That's why it's no surprise that the Emerald Isle has its own celebration in the Buckeye State. You dive into the delicious taste of corned beef and cabbage, observing the intricate tap-like steps of the traditional Irish dancers. You're transported by Gaelic folklore and instruments, even if your turn on the tin whistle was a wee-bit pitchy.

2. The Ohio River Paddlefest (Cincinnati, Ohio; August 5)

Why It's Unmissable: You know it's called the 16th annual Paddlefest, but on some passages of the nine-mile course of the Ohio River, you take a break from paddling and just float. With the Cincinnati skyline drifting by on the north bank and 1,700 paddlers laughing and chatting in the river all around you, you're in no rush for this journey to be over. "Then again, there's craft beer and food trucks, at the Finish Line Celebration," you remind yourself, beginning to paddle again.

3. Celina Lake Festival (St. Mary's, Ohio; July 28–30)

Why It's Unmissable: You came for the pony rides, local merchants, and fireworks show. Just kidding, you came for the swimming cars. There are a lot of reasons head to the Celina Lake Festival on a summer day, but watching someone drive a convertible "amphicar" into a lake...with the top down? That's something you won't see IRL anywhere else.

4. Ohio Renaissance Festival (Harveysburg, Ohio; September 2–October 29)

Why It's Unmissable: The end of summer has us all wishing we could go back in time. The Ohio Renaissance Festival grants your wish in abundance with 30 acres of 16th-century merriment. You catch a troubadour's set, pass a juggler performing for assembled lords and maidens, and pick up a few souvenirs among more than a hundred arts and crafts shops. As you enjoy a turkey leg, you take in your feudal surroundings and pretend you aren't due back at your job for another 400 years.

5. Vintage Ohio Wine Fest (Kirtland, Ohio; August 4–5)

Why It's Unmissable: You never associated Ohio with wine, which is why you were stunned to learn that this Midwestern enclave is home to over 200 wineries. As you move among the vintners' booths sampling crisp varietals from all over the state, you admire the rustic setting of the Lake Metroparks Farmpark, which makes for the perfect location for a weekend of wine tasting.

6. The Jazz & Rib Fest (Columbus, Ohio; July 21–23)

Why It's Unmissable: You meander up and down the broad riverside paths of the Scioto Mile in the heart of Ohio's cosmopolitan capital, hot plate of ribs in hand. As you eat, you soak in music from the finest local, regional, and international jazz artists wafting from any of the three stages strung along the river and ponder the age-old rib-fest question: Who has the tastier chops, the artists on the stage or the 23 award-winning barbecue teams behind the grills?

7. Ohio State Fair (Columbus, Ohio; July 26–August 6)

Why It's Unmissable: The inspiration for a thousand country songs since its first year in 1850, this one's a no-brainer. While your Ohio trip hasn't exactly been short on culinary delights thus far, nothing has prepared you for the new world of textures and flavors you find at the Ohio State Fair. It's all you can do to pull yourself away from the funnel cake and deep-fried buckeyes to check out the arts and crafts and livestock competitions, or even the famous butter sculpture.

8. Ohio River Sternwheel Festival (Marietta, Ohio; September 8–10)

Why It's Unmissable: Standing on the rocky shoreline of the Ohio River Levee, you'll see the amazing spectacle of a collection of sternwheel boats at Marietta's Ohio River Sternwheel Festival that ranges from historical throwbacks to the modern luxury vessels. Some even double as concert stages. After hopping a ride on the Valley Gem, the festival's public access sternwheeler, you enjoy the music from shore as you explore the bustling downtown area with shops, boutiques, pubs, and eateries.

9. All Ohio Balloon Festival (Marysville, Ohio; August 10–12)

Why It's Unmissable: The feeling you get watching an armada of hot-air balloons slowly ascend into the August sky is the essence of summer itself, equal parts exhilaration and tranquility. The intermittent low grumble of the burners intermingles with the murmur of the crowd, some 30,000 strong, and the melodies of the live entertainment. The multicolored bulbs hover above the festivities, lit from within like a bank of vivid storm clouds.

All images courtesy of TourismOhio.

Plenty of places do summer right, but how many feature Irish folklore, hot-air balloons, and swimming cars? No one but Ohio. Find your summer here.

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