How much do you love football? No, really, how much? Are you a face painter? Do you cry when you see your team's favorite stars from yesteryear as old men? Do you cry when your favorite team screws up yet another draft? Are you the commissioner of your fantasy league?
If you said "yes" to all of the above (or any of the above), then the Pro Football Hall of Fame's annual Enshrinement Festival will likely be your heaven on earth. This is a veritable fantasy camp for fans of all things pigskin and is absolutely worth the roughly 60-mile day trip from Cleveland to Canton, the unofficial capital of professional football.
What To Do There:
- Before you do anything else, make sure you visit the Hall of Fame, itself. The entire football world - fans, former stars, current players and TV personalities - converges on Canton for this massive multi-day affair, but don't get distracted. There's memorabilia galore; new, lively interactive exhibits that put you right into the game; and there's the Hall of Fame Gallery, home to the bronze bust of all 30+ (and counting!) players and coaches who have been enshrined since the charter members were inducted in 1963.
- The Enshrinement Ceremony, held at the legendary Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, is the emotional center of the entire event. Watch the year's inductees be welcomed by their gold-jacketed predecessors. Watch 300-pound grown men break down as they hug their families, ex-teammates and former idols. Watch them talk about their inspirations and who helped lead them on their journey to Canton. Maybe have a cry, yourself. We won't tell.
What Else To Do:
- Since you're already there, it might be fun to watch some actual football, no? You're in luck! The annual National Football League Hall of Fame game marks the official start of the NFL preseason. Two different teams play every year in the prime time, nationally televised game.
- Everywhere you look, you'll see former NFL stars from all eras: walking the grounds of the Hall and the streets of Canton, taking part in the numerous autograph and photo sessions and riding in the Grand Parade. But this weekend isn't only about football superstars; the annual Concert For Legends has been known to bring in some of the biggest stars in the world of music (recent headliners have included Maroon 5 and Tim McGraw). What can we say - Cleveland is incapable of throwing a party without live music.
Tips For Attending:
- This is a plan-ahead kind of event. Make sure you get your special event tickets and hotel rooms early - they go quickly.