Heritage Festival celebrates 20th anniversary this weekend

Neville Hardman

Downtown Kent will host thousands seeking culture and entertainment for Heritage Festival this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Festivalgoers can expect to take part in all-day carnivalesque food, live music, a wide selection of craft vendors and more. Fireworks will close the festival. Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said the fireworks show is expanded this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Heritage Festival.

Three stages dispersed through downtown, food and craft set-ups drive the festival as well as a car show off Franklin Avenue and dance performances throughout the day.

Heritage Festival Schedule

North Water Street Stage:

11:00 – 11:30 a.m. Iris Isadora

11:45 – 12:30 p.m. Gypsy Soul Belly Dancers

1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Kent Calypso Band

2:15 – 3:00 p.m. Hot Potatoes

3:30 – 4:15 p.m. Jon Mosey Trio

4:45 – 5:30 p.m. Box of Squirrels

6:00 – 6:45 p.m. Trunks

7:15 – 8:00 p.m. Mount Ratz

8:30 – 9:30 p.m. Hive Robbers

Erie Street Stage:

11:00 – 12 p.m. Goodnight Tonight

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Roger Hoover

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Monopoly

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. The Stingers

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Bluestones

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Numbers Band

8:00 – 9:00 p.m. Immortal Porpoises

9:15 – 9:45 p.m. Kade Dunna Drummers & Fyre Maevyn

Main Stage:

10:45 – 11:15 a.m. Buckeye School of Dance

10:30 – 12 p.m. Hoop Kids

12 p.m. – 12:15 p.m. National Anthem/Announcements

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Rio Neon

2:00 – 2:30 p.m. Steel Angels

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Hillbilly Idol

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Rachel & the Beatnik Playboys

6:00 – 6:30 p.m. Lovelight Arts Camp

7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Danjo Big Band

8:15 – 8:30 p.m. KRHS Cheerleaders

9:00– 11:00 p.m. Special Blend & Fireworks

The planning for Heritage Festival begins in January with monthly meetings of a volunteer group representing parts of the Kent United Services Organization, Wemhoff said.

“Countless hours go into the coordination of vendors, entertainers and contractors,” Wemhoff said via email.

Food vendors, art booths and a children’s game area lead into North Water Street Stage across from Scribbles, where Mount Ratz will play at 7:15 p.m.

The band is composed of Parry Lopez, Corey Haren, Melanie Gilliland and Eric Vaught, who play entirely instrumental music. The band is a second-timer to the festival lineup, equipped with a fast-paced sound and unpredictable antics, Vaught said.

“It’s cool because if people don’t like it, then they can just walk away, so the people that are watching you want to hear you play,” Haren said.

Lopez said that playing Heritage Festival does not mirror their other shows because the band will play within a stricter time frame and be outside instead of standing in a dimly-lit bar.

“A lot of people older than my parents just like coming up really excited about (our music),” Lopez said.

Lopez said the crowd is different because the festival is family-oriented and they will get to see people they won’t usually see when they play at bars, such as high schoolers and grandparents.

“There’s a lot of people that you don’t know,” Gilliland said. “Usually we know everyone that comes to our shows, so something like this is really fun because it’s people off the street who you would not expect to like our music. They come up to talk to you and they pick something up and they’ll remember you that way.”

Mount Ratz will play an aftershow around 11:30 p.m. at The Stone Tavern, which will host live music all day.

Contact Neville Hardman at [email protected].