Most people believe that the summer season officially gets underway with Memorial Day Weekend. But here in Cleveland, some would say that it actually begins one weekend earlier. The weekend BEFORE Memorial Day Weekend is the time when many people make their way over to University Circle where they take part in the festival known as the Hessler Street Fair.

The Hessler Street Fair actually predates the Woodstock festivals, having its roots in a simple block party that took place in the area around Hessler Road. By 1969, it had become an all-out party with many people from outside of that area showing up to take in the festivities. And decades later, Hessler Street Fair is one of the biggest events throughout the entire Greater Cleveland area, and the event that many people (myself included) consider to be the unofficial beginning to Summer here in Cleveland.

Like the original Woodstock Festival, the Hessler Street Festival also has a political undertone to it: While Woodstock was created to provide just a few days of peace and harmony while the Vietnam War was taking place, the Hessler Street Fair was originally held to cover the financial costs being amassed while trying to fight University Circle Inc as UCI tried to buy and tear down the houses on Hessler Road so that the land could be used by University Circle and Case Western Reserve University. 43 years have passed and the residents of Hessler Road are still fighting. Money raised from the vendors who take part in the festivities will go to help defer the costs of fighting in court to keep Hessler Road the way it is.

The largest part of the Hessler Street Fair is the musical entertainment. The special part the music is that most of the bands contain at least one person with some connection to the street. It is this “home grown”  idea that makes the entertainment so special. And each year, the Hessler Street Fair always has some of the best music of any festival during the summer season throughout all of Greater Cleveland.

This year’s main stage entertainment will include: Jah Messengers, Charlie Mosbrook, Morticia’s Chair, Katty Whomp Us, George Foley and His Rhythm, plus a lot more. On Saturday, May 19th, the featured band of the night will be Into the Blue, a Grateful Dead tribute band made up of members of Sultans of Bing. On Sunday, May 20th, the featured band will be Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band. These bands, as well as many others (including the JiMiller Band) will be part of this year’s event.

If you happen to be a history buff and would like to know a little bit about the fair itself while you are attending the event, just step over into the Hessler Street Fair Museum, located on the grounds of the fair. There, you will see and hear all sorts of things that will take you back in time to some of the more historic parts to the festival. You can even sign the visitor’s book located inside the Museum to let future attendees know that you were there.

As always, the Hessler Street Fair is pure family fun. Along with things to do that will make the adults happy, the event also includes plenty of things to do that will entertain your children. Inside Harmony Park, you’ll find: Balloons from Flower Clown, face painting, scavenger hunts, puppet shows, Mr. Bill Does Magic and much more. So bring the whole family for a day of fun.

The Hessler Street Fair is a two-day annual event that takes place the weekend BEFORE Memorial Day Weekend and will take place May 19th and 20th, 2012. For complete details on the festival, including directions, check out the website for the event. Come out and join in the fun as the Hessler Street Fair celebrates 2012 and beyond.

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Comments
  1. Aretha says:

    I had a ball last night !!!!! I had described this event to some friends like Woodstock before I read this article! I really enjoyed myself and plan to try and attend the event annual. I also really enjoyed understanding the historical aspect. Key up the good fight. Peace Aretha(soulfood1@att.net)

    • matheson12 says:

      Someone was walking through the event and said that it like the street was a throwback to the sixties. I almost stuck my nose in the conversation to correct them , but I didn’t. It’s not that the event is a throwback, it’s that it is STUCK in the sixties. “Throwback” means that they went BACK in time, but the street has never changed!!

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