Planning a visit to the Lake Erie playground of Put-in-Bay?
Hotels are already booking up, especially on weekends during the prime vacation span from mid-June to mid-August, said Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce ambassador Peter Huston. No one has any hard numbers, but South Bass Island may welcome 750,000 visitors during the season.
July and early August is when the Bay’s bars are busiest, and when the resort pools and tiki bars are overflowing with drunk 20-somethings. But there’s much more to do, Huston stressed.
“We’ve been trying to balance the really crazy party thing with more family oriented weekends,” he said. “We don’t want to be just 20-year-olds testing their ability to drink.”
There are lots of niche drinking events, starting with Mr. Ed’s Pajama Party April 21 and Mardi Gras May 12-13. The chamber of commerce calendar does not include those events, since they’re not sponsored by the chamber. (But you can see those events and more here.)
Huston’s favorite? Pyrate Fest, which is on its 10th year. Check out the rest of the big draws in this list from the chamber.
M A Y
May 8: Blessing of the Fleet
The annual blessing of boats and aircraft servng the Bass Islands will be held at 11 a.m. off Fox’s Dock, adjacent to the Jet Express Dock downtown. Local clergy will bless the vessels, a centuries old tradition in ports worldwide. Coffee, hot chocolate and cookies will be served on the dock.
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
May 18-21: Victoria Day Weekend
Stores and homeowners join for an Island-Wide Garage Sale on Saturday during a celebration commemorating more than two centuries of peace between the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Bonus: it’s a Canadian long weekend!
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
May 26-28 Memorial Day Weekend
Active duty service people and veterans get discounts at many local businesses, free passage to the island on both ferries and special discounts on Memorial Day. The annual Salute to the Troops honoring veterans is held at Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.
J U N E
Enjoy a free day of bluegrass, new grass, folk, zydeco, pop and rhythm & blues at Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial in the second annual event.
June 16: 44th Founders’ Day
Celebrate the founding of Put-in-Bay by Hispanic merchant Jose DeRivera. Kids’ games from noon to 2 p.m., sandwiches, hot dogs, strawberry shortcake, festival vendors and live music.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., DeRivera Park
June 22-24: Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest X
The 10th annual Pyrate Fest sees the return of the Pyrate King for four days to find his stolen treasure. The weekend starts when island businesses paddle their vessels around the downtown harbor in the annual Cardboard Boat Race Championship. Then Friday the pyrates invade the downtown harbor by boat. Saturday features kids and adult costume contests. Sunday is the annual Kids Fest, the third annual 5K Pyrate Run & Fun Walk benefiting Stein Hospice, Pyrate Village with Pyrate Marketplace, Faire Wynds Circus, historic displays in cooking, medicine, weapons, and navigation.
The U.S. Brig Niagara will be docked for tours, and a four-hour sail will be available.
J U L Y
July 4: U.S. Naturalization Ceremony, Freedom Concert and Fireworks
Fireworks presented at dusk by the Put-in-Bay Business Owners & Friends of the Bay. Shot off a barge in the downtown harbor, the aerial display is best viewed anywhere along the downtown waterfront and from the Perry’s Victory& International Peace Memorial grounds.
A U G U S T
Aug. 4-11: Green Week
The Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center, the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy and the Put-in-Bay Township Park District work together to present a week of activities to highlight the green side of the islands. The week is kicked off by the Middle Bass Island Poker Kayak Day at the Middle Bass Island State Park on Saturday, Aug. 4. The South Bass Islands EcoTour begins Wednesday, Aug. 8, followed that evening by the annual Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center Pig Roast with more EcoTour the next morning.
Sept. 8: Art in the Park
Area and regional arts and craftspeople display and sell their original works in photography, watercolor, acrylic, pottery, glass, stained glass, fabric, wood and paper. Live demonstrations, and a silent auction benefits the Put-in-Bay Arts Council.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., DeRivera Park.
Sept. 15: New Year’s Eve at the Bay
Island businesses celebrate New Year’s Eve with Monte Carlo street games. Many establishments hand out traditional party hats and accessories.
6 p.m.-11 p.m.
Sept. 15: Miller Ferry 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Fun Walk
Sept. 22: Half-way to St. Paddy’s Day
Celebrate the half-way mark to St. Patrick’s Day with a parade at 1:45 p.m. Hooligan’s Irish Pub sponsors a drum and bagpipe marching band. Island restaurants serve Irish food and beverages.
Sept. 25-26: 10th Annual Vintage Sports Car Road Race Reunion
Over 100 vintage sports cars converge on Put-in-Bay for three days of activities. Racing events take place at the Put-in-Bay Port Authority Airport. Qualifying starts Monday afternoon then the island “ceremonial laps” and then racing is all Tuesday. Wednesday morning is the car show at McCann Field.
Sept. 29: Tailgate Weekend
Dress in your favorite team’s colors, jerseys and gear and find your favorite football team playing on one of the many big screens on the island. Join the Lake Erie Islands Browns Backers at their annual tailgate.
Oct. 6: Island Wine Festival
Sample foreign and domestic wines, including from the island, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of good food, and excellent wine. Admission includes a souvenir wine glass. Sample tickets are $1 and most samples are in the $2-$5 range. Purchase a full bottle to take home. Winery tours are available, and a large silent auction benefits the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society.
11 a.m.-5 p.m., Put-in-Bay Winery, Doller Estate on Bay View Avenue downtown
Oct. 13-14: Oktoberfest
The 25th annual German-style festival features German food, hot spiced wine, and cold beer. Food includes brats, potato pancakes, apple dumplings, stuffed cabbage, pierogi, cabbage and noodles, schnitzel, pies, and German Chocolate cake provided by Put-in-Bay Chamber member restaurants. Live polka and German music, and German dancers entertain both days. Souvenir apparel, souvenir beer glasses for sale.
Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m.
Oct. 20: Homecoming
Homecoming weekend welcomes back old friends and co-workers from past years for a bar crawl competition and celebrate the end of another season here at Put-in-Bay.
Oct. 27: Halloween at the Bay
Downtown taverns decorate with a theme for Halloween. Hundreds of people in costume flood the streets for Put-in-Bay’s final weekend of the season. Some establishments have costume contests and prizes.