Fireworks, concert and weather top of mind for many at Akron festival

By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer

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Ahilan Vasanth, 18 months, gnaws on a ear of corn with help from his mother Nithiya Panneer, of Kent, while at the Rib, White, and Blue Festival at Lock 3 Park on Thursday, in Akron. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)

Carey and Renee Grant decided the Fourth of July was the perfect day to visit Akron for the first time.

The couple, who moved to Columbus three months ago from Atlanta, drove to Northeast Ohio to do some exploring of their new state. They sat just outside Lock 3 Park enjoying a barbecued ribs lunch and watching people at the 38th Rib, White & Blue festival on South Main Street.

“We came here for the ribs fest today. Well worth it,” Carey said. “We saw this online. I compared this to Cleveland and decided to come here. ... There’s nothing like Main Street festivals.”

The Grants did not expect to spend the whole day in Akron, though. Their plan was to drive home to Columbus and, weather permitting, see a fireworks display there. Renee Grant went back in line at the Carolina Rib King booth to get takeout for dinner. “Carolina King gets a 12 on a scale of one to 10. Very good,” she opined.

The festival is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today and Saturday. Admission and parking are free. The event includes live music at night. Ten rib vendors from six states are selling food.

Lots of people at the Akron festival Thursday were pondering whether to attend the city’s evening symphony concert and fireworks show or make other plans.

The weather had a lot to do with any indecision. Forecasts called for a high probability of evening showers. A light rain — one didn’t need an umbrella or raincoat — sprinkled on and off during the muggy afternoon. Temperatures were in the high 70s, under gray skies.

The fireworks went off as planned.

Nicole Black, originally from Erie, Pa., and now living in Fairlawn, walked along the festival and said she wasn’t sure about her evening plans.

“It depends on the weather,” she said. If the rain held off, Black said she likely was returning to Akron for the holiday concert and fireworks.

“We’re new to Ohio. This is actually our first year down here,” she said.

Jeff Francek celebrated his 38th birthday at the festival with family and said he hoped to see the fireworks. He described himself as a “part-time” Akron resident, who travels a lot as owner of Steel Reel Catering, which specializes in food service to Hollywood movie and TV productions.

“I go all over the country,” he said.

Francek was trying to figure out which ribs vendor he wanted to try.

“It’s a good turnout. It’s the thing to do,” he said. “It’s more like Americana. You’re here for ribs and fireworks.”

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com.


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