During the summer months in cities and towns along the Ohio River and throughout the area, not a week goes by without scores of amazing festivals taking place.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the weekends are filled with arts, entertainment, history, food, and more. If you feel like having fun at lively, quirky, and even wacky summer festivals, here are our picks to include on your calendar.
31st Annual National Corvette Homecoming
Bowling Green, Ky., revs its engines as the Sloan Convention Center hosts more than 500 antique and new Corvettes. This year, special guest Captain Joe “Spirit” Jakub arrives in the American flag-decorated D.A.R.E. Corvette convertible. Factory tours and seminars are featured as well as the Road Tour, an hour-long Corvette parade that winds around the county. www.corvettehomecoming.com
It’s easy to agree with Rob Hill of Evansville Iron Street Rods when he says Frog Follies “brings out the crowds to see the cars from yesteryear.” The largest pre-1949 street rod event in the country, Frog Follies draws more than 4,000 cars to the Vanderburgh 4-H Center, where “rodders” from all over the country “get together, swap stories, and visit with other like-minded individuals,” Hill says. www.frogfollies.org
Hadi ShrinersFest Freedom Festival
From L-39 Albatross jets to a Twin Beech C-45, loud airplanes fill the Evansville sky on June 9 and 10, with acts by Texas-based Red Steel Jet Team, flying a Russian-made MiG-23, the world’s fastest privately owned jet; performances by Team RV as they maneuver 12 planes in precision formations; and single stunts by pilots Tim Weber, Gary Ward, and Matt Younkin. These are among the larger-than-ever-before attractions at this year’s ShrinersFest Freedom Festival, June 6-10.
Notable improvements in this year’s festival include the replacement of inflatable bouncers with carnival-style child and adult rides and of course, the air show that’s bringing more acts than any previous festival. A VIP area at the Pagoda with access to air-conditioning and endless food and drinks throughout the three-day event are offered for an additional price. Instead of tickets, admission buttons are sold for a $5 entrance fee, and a free kids day kicks off the festival on Wednesday, with demonstrations from the local fire and police departments and the SWAT team, and a visit from the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library’s book mobile.
$5 general admission (kids 12 and under are free). Nightly music performances by the Bobby Clark Band, McFly, Mike Harvey SuperGold Sock Hop, Pfreak Show, Scott Sublet and Tim Simpson, Lindsey Williams, and Jason Clutter. www.shrinersfest.org
Known as Southern Indiana’s finest bierstube, the Haubstadt Sommerfest has been a festival favorite for nearly 50 years. A short 19 miles north of Evansville in Haubstadt, Ind., the annually anticipated three-day event promises live music from three regional acts — Stompbox 40, Bobby Brown, and McFly — and timeless festival staples including talent shows, burgers and stroms, and of course, the requisite beer. www.haubstadt.org
Harrison County Summerfest
This year’s Harrison County Summerfest in Corydon, Ind., which brings thousands of people out each year, comes to little Braeley England’s rescue. Born with spina bifida and associated Chiari malformation, 4-year-old Braeley has endured more than 15 surgeries. Hospital bills are adding up, and proceeds from the 5K run, silent auction, and bike show go directly to her medical expenses. www.harrisoncountysummerfest.com
Arts and Crafts
SculptEVV Art and Musical Festival
In its inaugural year, this festival offers guests an aesthetic experience on Haynie’s Corner (in the Evansville Arts District), with 12 sculptures installed at the new outdoor gallery and sculpture park, where they will stay until April 2013. The exhibition — a partnership between the City of Evansville, the University of Southern Indiana, the Arts Council, and the Evansville Bicentennial Committee — brings sculptors from as far as California, says project director Hilary Braysmith, and is accompanied by the Art Council’s ArtEVV fair, entertainment by the Evansville Fire Family, and musical performances by Blind Dog Gatewood and the Smoke Rings, among others. www.sculptevv.org
Wine and Spirits
Historic Newburgh Wine, Art and Jazz Festival
Carol Schaefer, executive director of Historic Newburgh, knows what sets the Newburgh, Ind., Wine, Art and Jazz Festival apart from other such events: the view. “A day of wine, art, and jazz coupled with a stellar view of the river — it just doesn’t get much better than that,” she says of the event hosted by Historic Newburgh and Evansville Living.
The festival, an open-air, two-day event overlooking the Ohio River, offers more than a nice view. Friday’s event, the Grapes on the Grass Soiree, takes guests on a tour of 17 Indiana wineries without the road trip; better yet, not only do guests swirl, smell, and sip all night long, they act as judges, casting their valued votes for their favorite flavors.
Saturday’s activities continue wine sampling (with the soiree’s winners announced), jazz music, and the added pleasure of more than a dozen artists displaying their work for sale on the east lawn of the Old Lock and Dam park, and plenty of food offered throughout the day. For the dedicated guest, three wine education classes led by Bill Woerz can turn anyone into a true connoisseur. And the homemade ice cream from the Kiwanis of Newburgh is an added treat. Tickets are available by calling 812-853-2815. Visit www.historicnewburgh.org for more information.