The Islander’s Guide to Under-the-Radar Events and Festivals
Pyrate Fest. Historical Weekend. Christmas in July. All fantastic island events in their own right and we certainly don’t want to take anything away from them, but to really get a feel of what everyday islander life is like you have to be willing to dig a little deeper. What’s that old saying? “Travel like a local.” And there’s no better way to insert yourself into the colorful Lake Erie island culture than by getting the inside track on its less touted events.
Bartender Olympics — We thought it best to ease into this list with a moderately clandestine get together. Perhaps the most popular on this list, the cocktail creators of South Bass Island are put to the test in this unique contest that usually takes place in early to mid-August. From Olympic style events on the doorsteps of the Roundhouse Bar to the character-laden parade, you should try and pencil this one into your calendar.
Put-in-Bay Road Races — Small on bore and large on agility, Triumphs, MG’s and a drove of other small sports cars gathered 60 years ago on the small island of South Bass for the Put-in-Bay Road Race. The 3.1 mile course that weaved through the small village streets of Put-in-Bay is reimagined into an oval track at the island airport in late September perfect for our viewing pleasure. Have a non-racing vintage car that you’d like to try your luck in? Just sign up, it’s open to the public.
Island Wide Garage Sale — Perhaps one of the island’s least publicized events, the Island Wide Garage Sale is exactly what it sounds like and suffice it to say that year-round island natives end up collecting some cool stuff. Around mid-May more than 30 island residences and businesses establish a spot on an island map, a map which is only available the day before the event at the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce offices in the Depot. Don’t miss a trip through the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museums resale shop, located behind the museum. The museum is located behind Reel Bar, Old Forge Café & Creperie, and Put-in-Bay Brewing Company off Catawba Avenue and can be accessed by the alley that runs between the brewery and the Put-in-Bay Town Hall.
Old Fashioned Baseball — Not only is baseball America’s past time, but more specifically, Put-in-Bay’s past time. If you’ve never been to an island baseball game, this is your ticket. This old tymey Fall match between The Ohio Historical Society Muffins and Put-in-Bay Mossbacks pits both teams against one another with the original rules of baseball from more than a century ago. So sit back, relax and enjoy a nice ball game…island style. Maybe it’ll make you forget about how bad the Indians are this year.
Middle Bass Island Grape Stomp — Making wine with your feet is an odd thing, but an odd thing that’s ridiculously fun and on a lot of people’s bucket list. J.F. Walleye’s on Middle Bass gives you the opportunity to slap a check mark on your list with their 16th annual grape stomp. Last year hundreds of onlookers showed up to watch some 50-60 folks stomp out varietals. Live music, great good and delicious drinks make this a mid-September staple.
Mayfly Fest — Believe it or not, those pesky little mayflies that inundate the island every June are extremely important to Lake Erie’s ecosystem. At Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, adults and children alike are given the free opportunity learn about mayflies and their role in nature through songs, crafts and other activities. So try to be nice to the little guys, we promise they won’t bug you too much.
Most events can be found in greater detail and with dates in our events section.