According to MSNBC, Ohio is one of the best places to enjoy fall foliage. Fall colors appear during September near harvest time, in shades of bright yellow and scarlet (much like the OSU Buckeyes Ohioans adore). This season provides an opportunity to take a scenic drive on one of Ohio's winding back roads to a fall festival. The timing of the fall colors with harvest time adds a delicious and often competitive component to many festivals. By sorting through them regionally, you can make it easier to find many enjoyable festivals.
Northeast Ohio has many scenic vistas along the southern shores of Lake Erie, where fall comes slightly earlier than the southern reaches of the state. In Portage County, the Mantua Potato Festival takes place Mid-September with a variety of foods, including pierogies, a local favorite. Also Mid-September, the Johnny Appleseed Festival is located in Lisbon and boasts apple themed foods, as well as a car and motorcycle show. Far north, the Geneva Area Grape Jamboree happens near the end of September. The Ohio Swiss Festival is located in Sugarcreek, not far from Amish country. It takes place early in October, followed by the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, offering a chance to tour 17 covered bridges.
Although there are fewer large cities in Northwest Ohio, you can still find a few locations to celebrate a fall festival. Milan Melon Fest in Erie County is just a short distance south of Cedar Point. It features the city's famous melons, including melon ice cream. Oak Harbor Apple Festival is located just east of Toledo and just miles from Lake Erie. Each year there are many fun contests to celebrate the city and the harvest.
Central Ohio contains the state capital, Columbus, and all the counties surrounding it. The West Jefferson Ox Roast is located in the city of the same name, just west of Columbus during early September. Around the same time is the Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival, southeast of Columbus. Halfway between Columbus and Lake Erie is the Marion Popcorn Festival in early September, featuring a corn toss. The Circleville Pumpkin Show happens in mid-October, celebrating pumpkins as well as gourds, squash and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Southeast Ohio boasts a strong German heritage that often shows in its festivals. In mid-September, downtown Cincinnati hosts Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, North America's largest Oktoberfest. At the end of September in Germantown, Montgomery County, is the Germantown Pretzel Festival. Located just south of Dayton, it celebrates many historical aspects of the community. Another German festival, the Sauerkraut Festival, is located in Waynesville during early October.
Southwest Ohio marks the beginnings of the Appalachian foothills. During the fall, these hills burst into color, providing lovely views for the annual fall festivals here. Along the Ohio River, Portsmouth holds River Days festival in early September. You can also travel to Wellston early in September for the Coal Festival, which celebrates the coal-mining heritage of the small community. The last full weekend in September, visit Barnesville and get your fill of pumpkins at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival. If you prefer apples, the Jackson County Apple Festival at the end of the month will provide delicious apple fare. During October, look for the Fall Festival of the Leaves in Bainbridge, just west of Chillicothe, Ohio's first capital city.
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images