NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The city’s annual Corn Festival will return to Bainbridge Road this weekend, with many of the same vendors and entertainment as previous years, despite the parade’s cancellation.
The 44th festival runs Friday through Sunday, with free admission, entertainment and parking stretching from state Route 83 to Root Road in front of South Central Park. Despite the parade’s cancellation due to the Center Ridge Road widening project, the rest of the weekend’s events will go on, with grounds opening at 6 p.m. Friday and an opening ceremony at 7 p.m.
Mario Cipriano, committee member and chairman for the parade and corn eating contest, said attendees can expect “the same great show they normally have each year.”
He highlighted several of the musical performances, including Vinyl Sunshine, new to this year’s festival. The quintet, performing 8:30 p.m. Friday, features covers of American pop songs from the 1960s and ’70s, but Cipriano said the committee is careful to choose acts that everyone can enjoy.
“They’re great, each year a small group of us go to a conference because the festival is a part of an organization called the (Ohio Festivals and Events Association), and we see sometime as many as 25 acts … and then we rate them and then we book them,” he said. “So the music is always very great, it’s always very good.”
Other acts include Stadium 11, 8 p.m. Saturday and Island Jeff at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Saturday morning 8 to 11 a.m. will be the North Ridgeville Fishing Club’s Fishing with Corn Derby for kids 15 and younger and the car show 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Senior Center’s horseshoe tournament will return to South Central Park at noon Saturday.
New attractions this year include a cornbread baking contest sponsored by the North Ridgeville Early Childhood PTA at 1 p.m. Saturday in Poppie’s Kids Corner near Safetyville, and the Goddard School’s Early Engineers program, also at the kids corner 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
“The Goddard School has been a sponsor in the past, but they’re focusing on early engineers, so the kids are going to be able to build items from different materials,” he said. “So it’s a little vocational spin, so that’s kind of cool they haven’t done that before.”
Visitors also will find new items to remember the festival by at the souvenir booth, including card holders for cell phones, amid the about 100 vendors at the festival.
“(There’s) something different and things that folks asked for — come and find out there’s definitely new things there,” he said.
And, in lieu of the parade, the North Ridgeville High School marching band will perform at noon Sunday.
“They’re going to assemble and march in and do some music for us in front of the gazebo,” he said. “I wanted to try and get some folks that are normally in the parade to come and perform, and they were willing to do that, so we’re very happy about that.”
And — weather permitting — the corn eating contest will be 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Poppie’s Kids Corner.
Work is underway along Bainbridge and South Central as crews start setting up for this weekend. Bainbridge Road will be closed between Route 83 and Root Road starting 1 p.m. Thursday, and will re-open by 7:30 a.m. Monday. Cipriano said the committee, with dozens of volunteers, is working behind the scenes, and is always looking for new members — as planning for next year’s festival will start in just a few months.
“Good news is we have attracted some new people to be on our committee, and we’re always looking for new people,” Ciptiano said. “(Folks) shouldn’t be intimidated or hesitant to join because we’re not going to throw you into anything. We will take you with an arm around the shoulder and allow you to do what you’re interested in and participate.”
Cipriano said visitors should see no major changes to the festival, despite the scenery change at the old Middle School building and construction throughout the city.
“We were fortunate things fell into place. We thought we were going to have to move the rides over to where the free parking is, which would have been bad, but it all worked out. It’s just basically normal, but it was a lot of last minute things this year that in a sense were a domino effect from Center Ridge Road but I guess it’s safe to say the parade was the only casualty.”
For more information, including a complete list of events and directions, visit nrcornfest.org.