|The Obetz Zucchinifest will be held Aug. 23-26 in Lancaster Park on Lancaster Street in Obetz. Festival is open 5-10 p.m. Aug. 23; 5-11 p.m. Aug. 24; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 25; noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 26. The event features rides, vendors, music, contests, zucchinis and more. For information call (614) 492-8364.|
The Obetz Zucchinifest celebrates its 22nd year with big time music acts, rides, contests, a cruise-in, and lots and lots of zucchinis.
"The Obetz Zucchinifest is unique," said Mark Rinehart, president of the festival. "For many folks it’s like a school or family reunion, but there’s also a broad range of entertainment featuring both national acts and local talent. People are coming to Obetz from Maine, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania following these national acts."
History of the festival
Since the 1950s, according to Rinehart, Obetz had held a festival on Labor Day weekend. But, because community festivals are common on Labor Day throughout central Ohio, it became more difficult to get quality rides and vendors.
"Twenty-two years ago, one of the better ride companies we were seeking said they could work with us if we moved our festival back a week," said Rinehart. "So we moved it, but that removed it from its Labor Day connection."
So, a new theme was needed for the festival.
"(Then Obetz Mayor) Mark Froehlich was joking with some seniors at the senior center one day about what to rename the festival. It was at a time of year when zucchinis were out. They looked around (the senior center) and saw all these zucchinis laying around and the name stuck."
Rinehart said the first Obetz Zucchinifest drew around 2,000 people over its four day run.
"And we were only using half the park for the festival then," said Rinehart.
The festival has since grown significantly, drawing a crowd of 50,000 over four days in 2006, according to Rinehart.
"We’re looking for 60,000 to 65,000 this year," said Rinehart.
Though the festival has grown, it has kept its small town atmosphere.
"It’s a place to see people that you may only see once a year," observed Rinehart. "If you haven’t seen someone you graduated with or an old friend in a while, you’ll usually see them here."
Visitors to the festival can sample zucchinis in various shapes and forms including zucchini burgers, zucchini fudge, zucchini bread, zucchini chili, and deep fried zucchini. Raw zucchini can also be bought in bulk.
"The favorite is the zucchini burger," said Rinehart. "People can’t wait till the burgers are back."
Rinehart said much of the zucchini used at the festival is grown locally in Obetz and Hamilton Township.
Some highlights of the Obetz Zucchinifest include:
•Aug. 23 – Judging for the biggest, smallest, best dressed, and most unusual zucchini.
•Aug. 24 – Cruise-in from 5-7 p.m.
•Aug. 25 – Food judging at 11 a.m. All entries must be in by 8 a.m. Aug. 25. For information call (614) 668-3069.
•Aug. 25 – Parade at 10 a.m.
•Amusement rides Aug. 23-26.
•Free entertainment: Aug. 23 -Michael Rose at 6:30 p.m. ; Gas Pump Jockies at 8 p.m.; Aug. 24 – Ronnie McDowell at 7 p.m.; Confederate Railroad at 9 p.m.; Aug. 25 – Jimmy Hensley at 4:30 p.m.; The Naked Rodeo Band at 6 p.m.; The Marshall Tucker Band at 8:30 p.m.; Aug. 26 – Cynthia Carr at noon; Emily Monroe at 12:30 p.m.; and The Rider Band at 4 p.m.