Zucchinis sprout into Obetz

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The Obetz Zucchinifest celebrates its 23rd year with great musical acts, rides, contests, a cruise-in, and of course, tasty zucchinis and zucchini products.

"For many folks the festival is like a school or family reunion," said Mark Rinehart, president of the festival. "Like our mayor says, it’s the biggest thing to hit town."

The Obetz Zucchinifest will be held Aug. 21-24 in Lancaster Park on Lancaster Street in Obetz. The festival is open 5-10 p.m. Aug. 21; 5-11 p.m. Aug. 22; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 23; and noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 24. It features rides, vendors, music, contests, zucchinis and more. For information call (614) 492-8364.

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, organizers decided to move the festival to an earlier date and give it a new theme to separate it from the  pack.

"(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," said Rinehart.

The first Obetz Zucchinifest drew around 2,500 people over its four day run and the event has since grown significantly, now drawing a crowd of 60,000 over four days, according to festival officials.

Zucchinis

Visitors to the festival can sample zucchinis in various shapes and forms including  zucchini fudge, zucchini bread, zucchini chili, deep fried zucchini, and zucchini burgers.

Raw zucchini can also be bought in bulk.

"There’s a new, carmel filled zucchini bread this year as well as all the other traditional familiar flavors," said Rinehart.

Rinehart said much of the zucchini used at the festival is grown locally in Obetz and Hamilton Township.

Entertainment

Rinehart said the festival features a top notch musical line up this year including "up and coming country and western" star Keith Anderson.

The main stage entertainment schedule:

•Aug. 21 – Christy Angeletti, 8 p.m.

•Aug. 22 – Jimmy Hensley, 6:30 p.m.

•Aug. 22 – Michael Rose & the E.A.S. Orchestra, 8:30 p.m.

•Aug. 23 – Jennifer Guerin, 6 p.m.

•Aug. 23 – Keith Anderson, 8:30 p.m.

•Aug. 24 – Full House, noon and 4 p.m.

Other festival highlights

Some highlights of the Obetz Zucchinifest include:

•Aug. 21 – Junior pageant, 5 p.m.

•Aug. 22 – Cruise-in, registration at 5 p.m. The cruise in will feature live on air radio  broadcast by DJ Daddy Wags.

"Daddy Wags is like an icon in this town," said Rinehart.

•Aug. 23 – Grand parade, 10 a.m.

•Aug. 23 – Contests starting, 1 p.m.

•Aug. 24 – Queen pageant, 2 p.m.

•Aug. 21-24 – Amusement rides daily.

Information

The Obetz Zucchinifest features free parking, free admission, and free entertainment.

For information on the festival, visit www.obetzzucchini.com.

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