Obetz Zucchinifest is packed with fun

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The Labor Day weekend is fast approaching and with it brings the annual Obetz Zucchinifest, a more than three-decade long event that has its beginnings as a Labor Day celebration.

Starting Sept. 3 when the festival opens at 5 p.m. and running through Labor Day when the annual event ends at 6 p.m., are four days filled with free admission to nationally known entertainment, a circus, fun, thrills, and plenty of edible zucchini-related delights.

Why name a festival in honor of a humble—and prolific—squash? Obetz Mayor Angela Kirk is glad you asked.

“In the grand tradition of Ohio fairs and festivals—like the Pumpkin Show and Tomato Festival—Obetz selected a vegetable commonly grown in the area to celebrate the harvest at the end of summer,” said Kirk. “The Zucchinifest acts primarily as a homecoming for local residents, but also affords an opportunity to show off our community to surrounding suburbs. Our guests now travel from many parts of Ohio and the surrounding states.”

Evolving over time as both Obetz and the festival grew, the earliest events were held in a small downtown park with a handful of stands, a small stage, and a few rides. As interest grew, the Zucchinifest was moved to Memorial Park and later to its current location at Fortress Obetz.

According to Kirk, the early festival attendance was measured in dozens of people and now the counts are in the hundreds of thousands.

“The early entertainment focused on local bands, which is still an important part of today’s Zucchinifest,” said Kirk. “However, as the festival has grown, the entertainment has kept pace and now includes several national acts.”

For the 2021 event, on Sept. 3 the festival runs from 5-11 p.m. A car show will be held from 6-8 p.m., Hott Lucy takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. followed by Winger at 9 p.m. On Sept. 4, festival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Phoenix Rising is the opening act at 8:30 p.m. for Ezra Ray Hart.

On Sept. 5, the Zucchinifest runs from 11 a.m. to 11 a.m. with a parade at 1 p.m., North to Nashville at 7 p.m., and Big and Rich at 8:30 p.m. Labor Day hours are noon to 6 p.m. The Cincinnati Circus is performing from noon to 5 p.m., the Columbus Zoo will be at the festival from 1-2 p.m. and pro wrestling takes the stage from 1-4 p.m.

The Miss and Little Miss Zucchinifest pageant takes place on Sept. 2 in the Fortress Obetz courtyard.

“There is always something fun to see at the Zucchinifest,” said Kirk. “From the ever-changing entertainment acts, the kid’s day activities, car shows, beauty pageants—there is something for everyone. The Zucchini Festival is not just an end of summer festival. It is for many a tradition that is shared generation after generation. That is what makes it so special to so many, including myself.”

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