Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cheese Fest 2017 -- Cleveland, OH

Last Friday (August 11th) we attended the 1st Cleveland Cheese Festival hosted by Taste CLE. We have attended two of their wine night events at Pranzo Bistro in Willoughby (event one and event two) and were excited to check out this event.

The promise? 70 varieties of cheese with unlimited sampling as well as 12 wine sampling tickets and the opportunity to try 30 different wines.

After blogging events and festivals for two years and attending many before that time, I always expect crowds and I always expect a first time event to need to work out some logistics. Based on the comments on social media, there were quite a few unhappy people. I wanted to mull things over, so I waited a week to post this while thinking about what could be done in the future. You cannot please everyone, but I think I'm a pretty reasonable festival attendee, and I have some suggestions that could help make this event more successful while keeping the attendees happy. 

Things we liked:

1.) None of us had ever been to the Lago events space and on the drive to Cleveland I was a little concerned this would turn into a logistical mess, and although it needed a few tweaks (see below), I have been to events that were much worse during the first run. The indoor/outdoor space was nice and it was the perfect time to utilize both. We have been to events with just as many people in an even smaller space which made for a miserable time. 

2.) All of the cheese, there was an excellent variety of cheese samples and we were able to try them all pretty easily.

Changes that need to be made moving forward:

1.) The bar areas need to be more spread out, there were long lines for samples of wine (although I'm grateful to vendors who filled up my glass and allowed me to use 3 tickets at once). There were many open green spaces outside that were simply not being used which would have helped cut down on the lengthy lines inside and inside the tent. According to Taste CLE, people that were supposed to man one of the wine tables backed out at the last minute, but even with one additional wine table, it would not have been nearly enough to accommodate.

Other event set-ups on the Lago Custom Events page show additional tents throughout the grassy area as well as a large four sided bar. This would have made everything so much easier. 

2.) There needs to be more furniture throughout the lawn area. For the number of people in attendance the seating was really limited and so were the tables. People want to be able to set down their glasses and their plates and not have to balance them the entire time.

3.) The last minute cancellation of the mac and cheese competition was not announced anywhere on social media and in exchange we were very confused to receive an additional wine ticket. I'm not sure why both the restaurants and a group of wine people backed out, but something needs to be mended there. At the very least announce changes via social media.

4.) People seem to be upset that the wine was not paired with specific cheeses -- that is not something that bothered me at all. It certainly could be reworked in the future, maybe even just provide a suggested pairing list along with the list of cheeses on social media.

All of the glorious cheese:

Cahills Irish Porter Cheddar

Having a great time with very full glasses of rosé bubbly -- thank you wine vendor!

I hope that Taste CLE is able to work through the logistical issues in the future in order to put on a fantastic event. Aside from waiting in line and not having a place to sit we truly did enjoy ourselves and were happy with the cheese. My brother set out to try every sample at least once and managed to do that over the course of the evening. I certainly would not be opposed to attending the same event next year as long as I knew that some changes had been made.

Ohio Wanderlust Rating:

Although the quality of the event overall was pretty good, and the people helping out were friendly, the overall chaos made me lower the rating. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Elevate Akron -- Akron, OH

Photo Credit: Elevate Akron Facebook Page

On Thursday evening Dave and I attended the 4th annual Elevate Akron event. Elevate Akron is an outdoor yoga festival held in Lock 3 park, the vinyasa class is free to all who attend. On Sunday, co-founder Tracy Rhinehart told the West Side Leader that this year the event was expected to have 2,000 attendees -- and there is space for even more growth in the future with room to hold up to 3,000 yogis. 

I'm sharing the photos above and directly below from the Elevate Akron Facebook page, because I think it's so important to capture the magnitude of this event. A camera can only capture a portion of the yogis, in the video from Elevate Akron I shared earlier this week, you can see everyone. In the photo below you can see where we were for the class. Dave gets off work at 4:00 and I work at the University, so it was easy for us to be downtown shortly after 4:45 to get a good spot.

This photo is from when I first arrived at Lock 3.

Surprisingly, most of the food options were not up and running when we arrived which was disappointing since we arrived right after work and wanted to eat something before the yoga class due to how hot it was outside. Ms. Julie's Kitchen had exactly what we needed, these Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce were delicious and refreshing in the heat. Ms. Julie is based out of downtown Akron and serves a variety of vegan eats at her location and at events like Elevate.

Due to the heat (it was 86° on Wednesday) we were happy to see the Popsmith cart at the event. This is the Blueberry Lavender Lemon and the Coffee (made with Interrobang from Akron Coffee Roasters).

Waiting for the class to start...

This year money from Elevate Akron was raised to support Summit County Children Services. Ohio is currently leading the nation in opioid overdoses and Summit County's heroin epidemic is dramatically increasing in the number of children entering foster care. Ann Ream, the Summit County Protective Services Director, spoke about what those in the community can do to help raise awareness for foster child adoption.

The key note speaker was Peaceful Fruits Founder Evan Delahanty. Peaceful Fruits is a fruit snack company based out of Akron, Ohio that focuses on creating simple and sustainable fruit snacks while centering on a social enterprise business model -- ranging from the founder's partnership with families in South America to creating jobs for people with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.

The vinyasa class led by Tracy Rhinehart was incredible -- we had been joking all day that we were getting a free hot yoga class due to the heat. I would consider us to both be intermediate yogis, and we were challenged by the class at times which was excellent.

We appreciated that there were no lines while registering, the layout of vendors was easy to navigate, and it was clear who was available to assist you (all of the organizers were wearing the event tank-top in green). I love supporting free events that support a good cause -- this is certainly an event that we would attend again. We will ask some friends to join us next year! This event is free to the public, although you do need to register in order to sign the waiver, shirts were available for a small fee, and all food needed to be purchased as well. Dave forgot his yoga mat and was able to borrow one by providing his license, all he needed to do was return his mat at the end of the event.

Even though this is a free event, it clearly takes a lot of work to organize year to year and everything came together nicely from the view of these two yogis.

Ohio Wanderlust Rating for Elevate Akron:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blue Tip Parade + Festival -- Wadsworth, OH

While perusing Facebook a few months ago I came across an event listing for the Blue Tip Parade and Festival in Wadsworth, Ohio. The parade and festival were founded in 1973 and are annual favorites in town. Like me, you might be asking yourself, why is there a blue tip match festival in Wadsworth? After a little digging, I found the an answer submitted by Michael Schario on the site Roadside America:

"Ohio Match Company was one of four Ohio companies that helped move Wadsworth from a coal mining town to an industrial community. Established in 1893, the company made the world famous "Ohio Blue Tip" strike anywhere matches. The company was the largest employer in Wadsworth, employing 1,600 people, more than 600 of them women, but demand for matches declined significantly in the late 1960s when disposable pocket lighters became common. The company closed in the 1980s.
The annual Blue Tip Festival every June starts with the lighting of a 17 ft. tall match during the Blue Tip Parade. The match burns 24 hrs a day for the duration of the festival."

According to most sources (including the Blue Tip Festival website) the match is actually 20 feet tall, it's unclear if it's actually the largest match in the world.

The Blue Tip Festival kicks off with the parade on Tuesday night, there is the 5k Matchstick Race (and now a half marathon as well) on Friday night, followed by the end of the festival on Saturday night. The weather was absolutely beautiful yesterday, so we set out to Wadsworth for the Blue Tip Parade and opening night of the festival.

Per news articles about the Blue Tip parade it always kicks off late, which gave us time to drive to Wadsworth after work and find street parking near downtown.


Once the start of the parade reaches the match, the match is lit to officially kick things off.


The parade participants varied from local businesses, to judges, to church groups -- all were showcasing Wadsworth pride, and some blue tip match pride.



Full disclosure -- the parade is long! We stopped watching after an hour and fifteen minutes and got a closer look at the famous match before heading over to the Wadsworth Brewing Company.

The Wadsworth Brewing Company is usually closed on Tuesdays, but they opened in the evening for festival goers. At 4:00 p.m. they tapped the keg of BlueTip Blueberry Ale which they created to commemorate their first Blue Tip Festival. The BlueTip Blueberry Ale is described by the Wadsworth Brewing Company as "a malty blonde ale with blueberries. The flavor and aroma of the blueberries is prominent and the beer is very refreshing on a warm summer’s day."

The location of the Blue Tip Festival itself is in Memorial Park which is .7 miles away from the Wadsworth Brewing Company.

There is a stage which will host nightly musical acts, rides, and all of the festival food that you can eat.

We decided to indulge just a little...

For the record, the giant match is not always out, it is only out for the Blue Tip Festival. The match will burn for five days and then be put away until next year's 45th Blue Tip Festival. Although Blue Tip matches are no longer manufactured in Wadsworth, the town has turned the parade and festival into a celebration of itself -- at the end of the festival all of the money will be donated back to Wadsworth based charities.

Ohio Wanderlust Rating for the Blue Tip Festival: