Rockin’ out on summer nights

Brenna McNamara

Local music festivals provide free entertainment

Families, teenagers and couples enjoy a variety of activities at Rockin’ on the River’s Irish Festival. Stands included face painting and carnival games. TRACY TUCHOLSKI | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

During the run of summer boredom, spending money seems to be the only way to drag yourself off the couch and out with friends.

Two outdoor locations, the Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront and Akron’s Lock 3 Park offer free entertainment every weekend during the summer.

The Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront

For many residents whose summers are defined by this area, the dictionary is not complete without the addition of “Riverfront.” Termed as such because of its walkway along the Cuyahoga River, Front Street is a non-operational street running parallel to the river – it holds two blocks of quaint shops, an amphitheater, plaza, fountain and hosts various festivals.

One such festival, Rockin’ on the River, features live bands and food vendors. The Riverfront also hosts monthly festivals such as the Irish and Italian festivals that last all weekend.

The amphitheater is a main feature of the Riverfront and is set up differently than most concert venues because it allows guests to walk around.

“The audience feels and hears the music, but seeing it is not as important,” said Bob Earley, event chairman and owner of the Rockin’ on the River festival.

Siobhan Henterly, a sophomore at Ohio State, said the events bring out several generations.

“The Riverfront is awesome because it’s a good meeting place,” Henterly said. “Everyone’s gone since they were little. It’s a generational thing.”

Earley said the event draws about 11,000 people on a busy night, and he is thinking about putting a second band at the other end of the street to accommodate the Riverfront’s growing popularity.

“The city created the Riverfront for folks to come and enjoy,” Earley said. “It’s perfect.”

Lock 3

With buildings in all directions and the heart of Akron right outside its gate, Lock 3 Park serves as an entertainment oasis for many people. Similar to a small-scale Blossom without the pavilion, Lock 3 consists of a stage resting on the border of the grassy park.

The park hosts WONE’s Rock the Lock, a free event on Friday nights. Saturday nights bring Lock 3 Live!, which is $5 for adults. On these nights, the grass is occupied by up to 3,000 people who come to listen to the featured band.

Steven Spinelli, freshman economics major at Kent State, said Lock 3 is primarily about the music and draws in more than just cover bands. He points out that the grass around the stage makes the events more music-focused because most people end up sitting around the stage.

Lock 3 has a limited number of food vendors. One vendor, Spinelli’s makes its food by hand. Owner Rick Spinelli said he strays away from using packaged food. The onions for onion rings are hand-sliced on site, and the grilled cheese is made in front of the customer.

Lock 3 Park sits on what used to be fenced-off and abandoned land, but has become a safe place for families, said Geri Nessit, a four-year volunteer.

The park will also host a family barbecue July 4 weekend.

Contact features correspondent Brenna McNamara at [email protected].