Labor Day To-Do
Labor Day Weekend Brings Multitude of Old-School Events and Beloved Festivals to Cleveland
By Lexi Hotchkiss
Labor Day is the official holiday dedicated to American workers. And, frankly, we can think of no better way to celebrate working than by not actually working.
From old-school county fairs and a beloved air show to ethnic celebrations and one-of-a-kind church festivals, the long weekend in CLE is packed with tons of activities that’ll make that one extra day off feel like a full-fledged vacay.
Here’s your daily to-do.
Friday, Sept. 1
Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest: (Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea, Sept. 1-4)
Missed last year’s weiner dog races? Still pumping iron to compete in this year’s beer stein-holding completion? Cleveland’s Labor Day Oktoberfest is one ridiculously fun way to enjoy the long weekend. Sure you might find yourself stuffed with brats, weinerschnitzel, spaetzle and pierogi. But listen up, mein freunds — there’ll be lots (and lots and lots and lots) of beer at this large-scale event.
Kamm’s Corners Greek Festival: (George Varouh Cretan Club of Cleveland, West Park, Sept. 1-4)
Cleveland’s thriving Greek community takes center stage during the seventh annual Greek Fest in the Kamm’s Corners area of the West Park neighborhood. Besides the full-scale Greek folk dancing and music, you can bet your baklava there’ll be spanakopita, souvlaki and saganaki for days. And, can we get an “OPA” for the traditionally prepared lamb on a spit?
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic: (House of Blues, Downtown, Sept. 1)
House of Blues in Downtown Cleveland will get a bit funkier on Friday night with a performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. No doubt the audience will be grooving to the band’s unique style dubbed “P-Funk.”
St. Elias Middle Eastern Festival: (St. Elias Melkite Church, Cleveland’s West Side, Sept. 1-4)
Experience a small sampling of the 117+ ethnicities populating Cleveland during the St. Elias Middle Eastern Festival. Nosh on Lebanese and Middle Eastern foods, cut a rug to some Arabic music and ride carnival attractions galore.
Saturday, Sept. 2
Cleveland National Air Show: (Burke Lakefront Airport, Downtown, Sept. 2-4)
The Cleveland National Air Show is the granddaddy of Labor Day events in Cleveland. It’s been entertaining families for years at its cool digs on the runways of Burke Lakefront Airport in Downtown Cleveland. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will headline this year’s festivities. But don’t count out the multitude of on-the-ground activities and planes, as well as heart-in-your-throat flight demos.
Made in Ohio Arts & Crafts Festival: (Hale Farm & Village, Bath, Sept. 2-3)
If you want a basic souvenir from your visit to Ohio, you could totally hit up one of those newsstands at the airport. But, if you want a legit, real souvenir from an actual person made right here in Ohio, make way to the Made in Ohio Arts & Crafts Festival at the historic Hale Farm & Gardens. It’s two days bursting with dozens of indie artists and crafters.
The Accidental Comedy Fest: (Pickwick & Frolic, Downtown, Aug. 31-Sept. 3)
Laugh Labor Day Weekend away with the Accidental Comedy Fest. Now in its sixth year, the Accidental Comedy Festival features more than 45 comics from around the country taking the stage at Hilarities Fourth Street Theatre inside Pickwick & Frolic in the East Fourth Street Entertainment District. Weekend passes available.
St. John Cantius Polish Festival: (St. John Cantius Church, Tremont, Sept. 2-3)
Let your quest for the perfect pierogi begin in Tremont during this annual Polish Festival. It’s Polska all around with handmade Polish crafts (nesting dolls, anyone?), Polish delicacies (pierogi, halushki and paczki, oh my) and tons of polka music and dancing.
Sunday, Sept. 3
The Great Geauga County Fair: (Geauga County Fairgrounds, Aug. 31-Sept.4)
While Cleveland itself is a thriving metropolis, an abundance of agriculture is just a few miles outside of the city. So, swing by the Great Geauga County Fair, an old-fashioned fair, to check out more than 13,000 exhibitions and live animals. Grab some fair food and take a gander at the pig races, frog jumping contests, demolition derbies or even the rodeo.
E.T. at Blossom Movie Night: (Blossom Music Amphitheater, Sept. 1-3)
“E.T., phone home. E.T., phone home.” Those won’t be the only parts of the classic movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial that you’ll hear during Blossom Movie Night. The world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra will perform the popular 1982 movie’s score live while the film is shown on the big screen of this huge amphitheater.
Serbian Cultural Festival: (St. Sava Eastern Orthodox Church, Broadview Heights, Sept. 2-3)
Add Serbian food to your repertoire of foodie credentials at Cleveland’s Serbian Cultural Festival. Match your stuffed cabbage and paprikash with some hearty helpings of krofna (Serbian donut), torta and nut rolls. St. Sava, just south of the city, comes alive with Serbian music, dance and food for all. This festival is best enjoyed at night!
Hungarian Scout Festival: (German Central Park, Parma, Sept. 1-3)
Did you know that Cleveland has one of the largest populations of Hungarian people outside of Hungary? Add to that, the region boasts a healthy number of scouting groups. Add the two together and you’ve got a rather unique festival featuring Hungarian food, crafts, music and, of course, scout groups showcasing their talents and abilities.
Monday, Sept. 4
St. Rocco Festival: (St. Rocco Church, Cleveland’s West Side, Aug. 31-Sept. 4)
Have you ever seen a bunch of guys try to climb a telephone pole lined with grease? Well, if you’re headed to St. Rocco’s Italian festival, you’re about to watch this more than 100-year-old tradition. Did we mention this fest is a haven for all things delicious Italian? Meatball subs, cavatelli, spaghetti, sausage sandwiches, Italian ice, cannoli and cassata welcome you.
St. Andrew Ukrainian Festival: (St. Andrew Ukrainian Church, Parma, Sept. 2-3)
Kick off the fall fun at St. Andrew’s in Parma with a few cabbage rolls, a ton of pierogi and a plethora of some serious homemade desserts from real, little old church ladies. The festival showcases not only incredible ethnic food, but Ukrainian music and dancing, as well.
Taste of Hudson: (First & Main, Hudson, Sept. 3-4)
Cute, quaint and a huge culinary powerhouse. That’s the charming community of Hudson, located just north of Akron. Each Labor Day weekend, this little town flaunts its culinary charisma during a food-focused festival featuring dozens and dozens of food vendors, as well as a heaping helping of local art, live music and a mix of local wine and beer. Don’t be fooled by Hudson’s endearing nature. This festival packs a punch and some mighty attendance numbers.