The Ohio Challenge 2018

25 festivals every Daytonian should experience

When it comes to festivals, the choices every weekend can be overwhelming. These are our picks for the best of the best.

There are festivals and fairs here, there and everywhere.

There are almost too many festivals to mention. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best of the best festivals around town.

Mark your calendars and prepare to eat, drink, sing and dance your way through the Dayton region all summer and fall.

>> BEST OF DAYTON: The 3 best festivals in town

BONUS: Photos from last year’s festivals will give you an idea what you might expect if you’ve never been to that festival.

>> FESTIVAL GUIDE: A complete calendar of upcoming festivals

Strawberry pie is always a hot seller at the Troy Strawberry Festival. (CONTRIBUTED)
Photo: HANDOUT/Dayton Daily News


At the 43rd annual Troy Strawberry Festival, attendees will enjoy arts and crafts, nonstop entertainment on two stages, and of course, delicious strawberry treats. The event will be held in historic downtown Troy, with the theme this year being “A Berry WACO Weekend.”

WHEN: June 1 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and June 2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Downtown Troy 

INFO: Check out their website

COST: Cost varies depending on events, preregistration required for some events.

Downtown Yellow Springs is receiving some last-minute upgrades meant to be in place before the busy summer tourist season. Crowds shown here in the 2016 Yellow Springs Street Fair and Music & Beer Festival filled downtown Yellow Springs. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Staff Writer


With over 250 vendors, 65 shops and eateries, and tons of music and beer, the Yellow Springs Street Fair is sure to be “a day of small town hoopla.” With so much going on, you’ll have to stop by both their June and October dates.

WHEN: June 8 and October 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: Downtown Yellow Springs

INFO: Website

COST: Free admission, free and paid parking available 

Pace yourself! With more than 35 chefs at each tasting tent session, there is plenty of food to go around. CONTRIBUTED BY RAFTERMEN / AFWF
Photo: For the AJC


Beginning in 1952, this festival celebrates the area’s history as a leading poultry-producer. The theme this year is “Rock -N- Roll All Night and Poultry Every Day,” so expect some loud music from new bands and local talent, and a lot of chicken and turkey. 

WHEN: June 14-16, times vary depending on day

WHERE: 459 S. Center Street, Versailles

INFO: Check out their website

COST: $8 for dinner, events costs vary, preregistration required for some events.

Lockheed F-35A Lightning II performs at the Vectren Dayton Air Show in June, 2017. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer


This weekend promises to bring “heart-pounding air performances and family friendly activities.” When you’re not watching the skies, you can check out a wide variety of aircraft displays. For the kids, there is the Vectren kids hangar where they can enjoy different fun activities, and the Young Eagles Essay Contest, with the winner receiving a free flight with Sean D. Tucker.

WHEN: June 22-23, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Dayton International Airport

COST: $25 for adults, $16 for seniors and youth (6-11), children 5 and under get in free. Save $3 to $4 off your ticket if you order online before June 17.

INFO: Check out their website

Sean Askren's hot air balloon "Bohica" and Doug Grimes' "The Gator" balloon were inflated during a media preview Thursday, July 20 for The Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival at Smith Park in Middletown. The event runs Friday through Sunday. For more information visit NICK GRAHAM/STAFF


Prepare to be wowed. This sanctioned hot air balloon competition will feature a race of 30 participants for the glory, the coveted Ohio Challenge Trophy and a bid to attend the nationals. There will be night balloon glows at dusk, a car show, balloon rides, fireworks, outdoor concerts, food vendors, arts and crafts and carnival rides.

WHEN: Friday and Saturday, July 19-20

WHERE: 2301 Wedekind Drive, Middletown


COST: $5 for adults, children under 12 are free. Parking $15 (includes free shuttle and admission)

The 53rd Annie Oakley Festival will be held from July 29-31, 2016 at York Woods, 6129 Reed Rd., Versailles. Contributed photo.


Take a drive to Greenville to honor Darke County’s most famous daughter. This July, visitors can enjoy shooting contests, antique markets and concessions, and a parade on Saturday. All of this, plus live entertainment and a pilgrimage to Annie’s grave, will make for a fascinating and historical weekend.

WHEN: Friday to Sunday, July 26-28

WHERE: Darke County Fairgrounds, Greenville

INFO: Check out their website

COST: Free

>> 3 things to know about Annie Oakley

>> The perfect time (and place) to learn about the life of famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley

Gaelic Storm will once again headline the Dayton Celtic Festival this July. CONTRIBUTED


Celtic music is just one of the things to love about one of the signature festivals of Dayton summer. There’s also the beer, the kilts and the delicious grub. Three days of free live music from Gaelic Storm, Scythian, Socks In The Frying Pan, Rory Makem, The Fitzgeralds, Cuig and Doolin’. 

Did we mention the beer, food and culture?

>> 8 fun facts about Gaelic Storm

WHEN: Friday to Sunday, July 26-28

WHERE: Riverscape MetroPark, 237 E. Monument Ave., Dayton


INFO: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The 34rd Annual Germanfest Picnic in Dayton was RiverScape MetroPark for the first time in the event’s history. The picnic, hosted by the Dayton Liederkranz-Turner club, took place Aug. 11-13 and proved to be a fun way to spend the weekend in the Gem City. (TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED)
Photo: Tom Gilliam


The 36th annual Dayton Liederkranz-Turner Germanfest Picnic is back for a third year at its new home at Riverscape with all the things you love about this Dayton tradition, including that unbelievable potato salad. Get ready for schnitzels, German beer, pretzels, Bavarian noms, polka and chicken dancing and apple cake. There will be a fifty-fifty raffle each day.

WHEN: Aug. 9-11 

WHERE: Riverscape Metropark, 237 E. Monument Ave., Dayton


INFO: Website

The fifth annual Bacon Fest took over the Fraze Pavilion, in Kettering, with porky fun on Sunday, Aug. 20. The event sponsored by the Fraze and Miami Valley Restaurant Raiders — a monthly “foodie” group that visits local restaurants — featured bacon treats from 15 locally owned restaurant. STAFF PHOTO / TOM GILLIAM
Photo: Tom Gilliam/Tom Gilliam


Bacon on bacon on bacon. And also bacon.

This festival sets out to prove that “everything goes better with bacon.”

Local restaurants create bacon-ey dishes for the event presented by the Restaurant Raiders, a foodie group that supports Dayton area restaurants. 

Music includes the George Barrie Band, the Honey and Blue Band and Pandora Effect.

WHEN: 3-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17

WHERE: Fraze Pavilion, 95 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering




This family-friendly event will include 180 handmade arts and crafts booths and food vendors serving steamed cooked sweet corn, BBQ chicken and much more. Discover the world of the 1840s Pioneer Village, send you and your kids on exciting pony and train rides, and enjoy live entertainment.

WHEN: Aug. 17-18. Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Community Park, 691 E. Dayton-Yellow Springs Road, Fairborn

INFO: Website

COST: Free

The 25th annual Greater Dayton Lebanese Festival held at St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church on 5915 Springboro Pike took place this weekend from Friday, Aug. 24 to Sunday Aug. 26. The three-day event featured rides, music, dancing and Lebanese food. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER


If Kibbe, Kafta, or beef and chicken Shawarma sounds appetizing to you, be sure to stop by this cultural festival in August. If these dishes aren’t your thing, you should check in for Middle Eastern dancing and entertainment, cultural displays and amusement rides for adults and children alike. 

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 23, 6 p.m.

WHERE: St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church, 5915 N. Springboro Pike, Dayton

INFO: Website

COST: Free

Dayton Beer Week culminated with the 20th annual AleFest on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Dayton Convention Center in downtown Dayton. More than 300 curated and hand-selected craft beers were featured at this year’s AleFest including 130 international options. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photo: Tom Gilliam


Dayton Beer Week will culminate in a fantastic finale with AleFest, which will be turning legal in 2019 with its 21st celebration. AleFest features hundreds of curated and hand-selected craft beers.

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 24

WHERE: Dayton Convention Center 22 E. 5th St., Dayton

INFO: Details to be announced later on website

COST: Ticket info still to be announced

Ohio Renaissance Festival is always a great time, but on Fantasy Weekend, wondrous creatures such as unicorns, fairies, and elves sneak into our realm for a visit. We went to Fantasy weekend and enjoyed the beautiful weather, great food and drink, and saw many incredible costumes. PHOTO / Josher Lumpkin


Transport yourselves to another era at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. This 30-acre permanent village has been historically re-created to resemble 16th Century England. Every weekend from Labor Day through the end of October, experience entertainment including jousting knights, jugglers, comedians, sword-fighters and the Queen herself with more than 100 shows daily. Feast on gigantic turkey legs, sip on hearty ales and flavorful wines. No utensils required. More than 150 world-class artisans will display their wares.

WHEN: Weekends Aug. 31 – Oct. 27 plus Labor Day. Open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: 10542 East State Route 73, Waynesville.

INFO: Website

Got kraut? There's plenty to be had at the Springboro Oktoberfest this year.
Photo: Contributed


Adults will love drinking the authentic German beer and wine, children will have fun in the kids zone, and the whole family will enjoy tasting German foods like bratwurst and schnitzel. Throw in live entertainment like the Chardon Polka band and other live bands, and this fun weekend in Springboro is shaping up to be one of the best Oktoberfests in the area. 

WHEN: Sept. 6-7. Friday 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 7:30 p.m. to midnight

WHERE: Springboro United Church of Christ, 5 W. Mill St., Springboro

INFO: Website

COST: $3 per guest. Free for members of the active military and children under 12.

It’s an annual feast at the Dayton Greek Festival. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Photo: Contributing Writer


OPA! At the Dayton Greek Festival, experience the best of Greek food, music and culture at this three-day festival in September. Feast on pastitsio, moussaka, dolmades, saganaki, tsoureki, Ouzo slushies, craft beers, baklava and more. Take a tour of the gorgeous Annunciation Greek Orthodox church. Entertainment includes Greek dancing and music as well as cooking demonstrations and shopping.

WHEN: Sept. 6-8. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 500 Belmonte Park North, Dayton

COST: Admission is free on Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and $2 per person the entire weekend. Children under 12 are admitted free, as well as active military and veterans. Free parking and shuttle service.

INFO: Website

Scott Jenkins stirs up a batch of Kettle Corn for J & J's Concessions at the Beavercreek Popcorn Festival Sunday, Sept. 13.
Photo: Jan Underwood


This festival brings over 200 booths offering foods, services and crafts that all have one thing in common...popcorn! This fun weekend will also include main stage entertainment, a play area for kids, a car show and a 5K popcorn run. Join in on the fun the weekend after Labor Day, and enjoy a weekend dedicated to everyone’s favorite movie snack.

WHEN: Sept. 7-8. Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Dayton-Xenia Road, between North Fairfield Road and Meadow Bridge Drive

INFO: Website

COST: Free

The annual Italian Fall Festa featured delicious food, craft beer, wine and bocce ball all weekend, from Friday, Sept 7 to Sunday, Sept 9, at Bella Villa Hall, 2625 County Line Road in Kettering. TOM GIlLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photo: Tom Gilliam


“Benvenuti! - Welcome!” Get ready to feel like you are actually in Italy with a weekend of great Italian food, music and games. This festival will take place at the beautiful Bella Villa Hall. Work off two days worth of delicious food by taking part in the Meatball Madness 5K on Sunday.

WHEN: Sept. 7-9. Friday 6-11 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m., Sunday noon to 8 p.m.

WHERE: 2625 County Line Road, Kettering

INFO: Website

COST: Free

The Hispanic Heritage Festival celebrated its 18th year with dancing, food and fun on Saturday, Sept. 15 at RiverScape MetroPark in Dayton. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photo: Tom Gilliam


PACO Latino invites us all to celebrate Hispanic culture with their 19th annual festival. Enjoy good music, food and entertainment, and be sure to get there early to see the Dayton Hispanic Heritage Parade. 

WHEN: Saturday, Sept.14, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

WHERE: RiverScape MetroPark, 237 E. Monument Ave., Dayton

INFO: Website

COST: Free

Delicious food is prepared during the 2018 Preble County Pork Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the fairgrounds in Eaton. DAVID MOODIE/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: David Moodie


If you’re a fan of pork, this is the festival for you. With all of the good food, live country music and a fun parade, this festival extends through the weekend. The festival proceeds will also go toward making improvements to the Preble County Fairgrounds.

WHEN: Sept. 21-22, hours TBD

WHERE: Preble County Fairgrounds, 722 S. Franklin St. Eaton

MORE INFO: Website

COST: Free admission and parking

Some of the action at the Dayton Art Institute's Oktoberfest. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED/FILE


🏆Voted Best Festival in Dayton 2018

The Dayton region has plenty of Oktoberfest celebrations. But the people of Dayton voted the Dayton Art Institute’s three-day celebration of Oktoberfest the top in’s Best of 2018 contest. It’s been a tradition for more than 70 years. Oktoberfest takes place on the grounds of the museum and is the museum's largest annual fundraiser. Beer, brats, food trucks, live music, arts and crafts combine for one of Dayton’s biggest parties of the year. Highlights include the two-day festival on Saturday and Sunday, a Lederhosen lunch kickoff celebration on Friday and an exclusive Friday night ticketed preview party.

WHEN: Sept. 27-29. Lederhosen Lunch: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Preview Party: 7 - 11 p.m. Oktoberfest - Saturday: Noon - 11:30 p.m. Oktoberfest - Sunday: Noon - 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton

MORE INFO: Website

COST: Varies (see below)

Lederhosen Lunch 

Free admission; food & drink available for purchase 

Preview Party 

Advance Tickets: $55 members; $75 non-members 

At the Gate: $95  

Oktoberfest General Admission (Saturday & Sunday) 

Advance Tickets: $8 adults; $5 seniors (60+) & youth (7-18) 

At the Gate: $10 adults; $7 seniors & youth 

Children 6 and under admitted free

This year's Germantown Pretzel Festival took place from Saturday, Sept. 22 to Sunday Sept. 23. The family-friendly festival in downtown Germantown served up gourmet treats like pretzels stuffed with jalapeno cheese, pizza-flavored pretzels and pretzel buns for sandwiches. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF PHOTO
Photo: Tom Gilliam


C&S Designs is ready to again throw the Germantown Pretzel Festival. This fun weekend will include live music from McGuffey Lane, Pandora Project and Spittin’ Image. While you’re enjoying the music and games, be sure to try the pretzels and other food that will be available from the tons of vendors that will be there.

WHEN: Sept. 28-29. Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12-6 p.m.

WHERE: 190 W. Warren Street, Germantown

INFO: Facebook

COST: Free

Every year, the small village of Minster, Ohio, located one hour north of Dayton, hosts an Oktoberfest that attracts a crowd three times its population of near-3,000 people. CONTRIBUTED


Experience this festival, which the people of Minster believe is “not just an event,” but a feeling, a spirit and a happy mood. See why over 80,000 people flock to Oktoberfest by enjoying German foods, a parade filled with colorful floats, marching bands and even celebrities. You’ll also have the chance to prove your worth in the beer tray relay, 10K run and other fun activities. 

WHEN: Oct. 4-6. Friday 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 9:30 a.m. to midnight, Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE: East 4th Street, Minster

INFO: Website


Sauerkraut pizza is one of the local delicacies peddled at the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival in Waynesville. STAFF/NICK DAGGY


Whether you love sauerkraut or hate it, there’s something for everyone at one of the region’s biggest festivals. Sauerkraut can be found as a main course, an ingredient or a topping for pizza, sundaes, brownies, donuts, cookies, sausage, hot dogs and more. There are plenty of unique dishes for those who dare. There will be non-sauerkraut tainted foods as well.

WHEN: Oct. 12-13. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Downtown Waynesville

COST: Free admission

INFO: Website



These beloved festivals have come and gone already, but start planning now for 2020.

Dayton’s A World A’Fair is truly a world affair. The 46th annual festival featuring foods, drinks and entertainment representing Dayton’s many diverse cultures took place Friday through Sunday, May 17-19, 2019, at the Dayton Convention Center. Did we spot you there? TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam


Held at the Dayton Convention Center, this festival showcases 34 organizations representing over 50 countries. Enjoy musical performances from local, national and even international groups. The fair promises to entertain, feed and most importantly, educate all who attend.

WHEN: Third weekend in May

WHERE: Dayton Convention Center 22 E. 5th Street, Dayton

INFO: Website

COST: Adults $8, senior citizens $5 and children (6-18) $4.

Photos from the 2019 Fleurs de Fete wine and food festival at Carillon Park.
Photo: Mark Fisher


This wine festival isn’t just for wine connoisseurs. Fleurs de Fete, Dayton’s largest wine and food festival, is set at the gorgeous Carillon Park and features hundreds of wines from around the world. Don’t underestimate the dining component of this wine-and-food event. Some of Dayton’s finest restaurants have participated in the past including The Oakwood Club, Jay's Seafood, and Carver's Steaks & Chops in 2018.

WHEN: Third weekend in May

WHERE: Carillon Historical Park (rain or shine)

MORE INFO: Website