KENT: “A year ago I saw you!” a woman in downtown greeted an acquaintance. Because, after all, it’s around this time every year that people gather for the Kent Heritage Festival.
The 18th annual festival, held Saturday, spread along Main and Water streets and neighboring roads and alleys. Three different stages presented dancers, comedy acts and an array of musicians.
One stage might be offering a group playing Outkast’s Hey Ya while another had a sound check using the Carter Family’s I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes.
And then, if you wandered over to the vendors staking out a gravel parking lot, you’d find a less formal-seeming ensemble working through another old tune, Down to the River to Pray, with an open banjo case filled with dollar bills from fans.
There were fire trucks on display along with emergency vehicles and even a Kent police prisoner transport van. Kent State University had an inflatable booth. The Portage County Republican Party had a tent adjacent to one for henna tattoos.
Pets and other animals were not allowed — but you could see a Mustang in a car show. Or find plenty of elephant ears for sale in a line of food trucks along North Water Street.
That same stretch had plenty of representatives of Lions Clubs, including ones in Kent, Crestwood, Garrettsville and Brimfield Township offering the likes of pulled pork, hot dogs and more in the food area. Not far away, you could get some goat milk fudge.
While some streets were closed, parking early Saturday was more manageable than in previous years thanks to a new parking deck downtown. Even so, as the day went on and more of the anticipated 20,000-plus people arrived, finding a space could be a challenge.
Rich Heldenfels writes for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.