In 2011, the Columbus Italian Club created the world’s largest meatball at the Italian Festival. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the final weight—after three days of cooking—tipped the scales at 1,110.5 pounds, only 68 pounds less than Triple Crown-winner American Pharaoh. That’s a hefty meatball.
Not into meatballs? Central Ohio offers plenty of other big festival entertainment nearly every weekend throughout the fall. Grand marketplaces? Sure. A gigantic German craft beer garden? You betcha. A collection of giant-ass pumpkins? Alright, we’re back to oversized food again. We’ve previewed some of the best of the season, and guess what? They’re gonna be huge.
Fashion Meets Music Festival
September 5-6, Arena District
Back for its second year, FMMF will take over the Arena District on Labor Day weekend. On the fashion side, there will be more than 20 brands, designers, and collectives setting up shop at the fashion tent, including local outfits like Bend Active, Stile by Elise, and students from OSU and CCAD. The headliners on the music side are AWOLNATION, Ludacris, Young the Giant, and St. Vincent, and the four stages will host more than 30 other bands, including local acts like Kid Runner and Playing to Vapors.
Hot Times Community Arts and Music Festival
240 Parsons Ave.
The Hot Times Festival features a street fair full of arts, crafts, vintage clothing, community outreach, antiques, books, and plenty of food. There are also family-friendly activities like a children’s parade and the ever-popular collection of artcars—vehicles decorated with all manner of whimsical and colorful designs. And of course the music—from more than 50 acts that incorporate a wide range of genres and even include dance, spoken word, and youth groups.
September 19-20, East Franklinton
Independents’ Day (pictured) has gone from an indie-rock concert tucked into downtown alleyways into a no-bullshit festival. There are all kinds of bands and performers—the return of Soul Position!—a stage programmed by the Columbus Songwriter’s Association, and an emcee and deejay showcase. The biggest addition is the grand marketplace, a collaboration between Independents’ Day and many of the city’s favorite vendors and events, like Columbus Handmade, the Small Business Bazaar, the Ohio Writer’s Guild, and Craftin’ Outlaws. There’s also a giant Tetris set at Game Jam, Franklinton Mini-Golf, the Artist Wrestling League, human-sized foosball… we could go on, but you have to experience it for yourself.
Ohio Expo Center
Ignore for a moment that this event happens in September—it runs from mid-September to the beginning of October at the original festival in Munich—it’s worth your time regardless of the calendar. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Columbus version, and as always there will be traditional music and food as well as cultural entertainment, like the stone toss, a stein-hoisting contest, and a cream puff eating competition (okay, this one’s probably more American than German). The best argument for checking it out? Schmidt’s sausage, lots of beer, free admission. See you there.
Columbus Italian Festival
St. John the Baptist Church
There may not be a Herculean meatball at this year’s festival, but there will still be plenty of delicious food and entertainment. There will be church performances at St. John the Baptist, traditional Italian music, and the parade and marching band competition. The festival also features a bocce ball competition, a cash raffle, children’s rides, the Italian Cultural Tent, and of course, all kinds of mouthwatering cuisine and cooking demonstrations to learn how to create your favorite dishes.
Circleville Pumpkin Show
159 E Franklin St., Circleville
Looking for a quick road trip to check out a celebrated piece of Ohio tradition? Head 30 miles south to the Circleville Pumpkin Show, which will be enjoying its 113th year. Though Circleville is a small town—about 12,000 residents—the festival of pumpkins goes big, attracting more than 400,000 visitors each year to see the world’s largest pumpkin pie, the Miss Pumpkin Show and Little Miss Pumpkin Show competitions, more than two dozen amusement rides, seven different parades, and the largest pumpkin contest. Last year’s winner—1,964 pounds. That’s nearly two meatballs!