A tidal wave-sized blend of food, live entertainment and activities will come ashore to Champaign County for the next three consecutive Saturdays.
The 20th Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, Sept. 17 and 24 at Freshwater Farms of Ohio, 2624 N. U.S. 68, a mile north of Urbana, highlighting seafood and other foods and tons of activities for all ages with a slew of bands all in one area.
Drawing people from as far as three hours away has made the festival one of the top 10 in Ohio, but instead of having it all in one weekend, the decision was made a year ago to go to three Saturdays.
According to Dr. Dave Smith, president of Freshwater Farms of Ohio, rather than chancing the weather being bad over a whole weekend, spreading it over consecutive Saturdays gives more opportunities, and keeps the employees from being overworked.
Last year’s pandemic conditions limited the new format, but Smith said this is a renewal.
“We’re a little bit bigger with our expanded farm and the things we didn’t have last year,” he said. “It will be an improved experience for our visitors.”
Visitors can experience the new fish barn, which was placed over the old as part of a three-year project with an updated visitors area for a start.
Highlights will include:
Kids’ activities including bounce houses and slides; critter displays including a sturgeon petting zoo; touch tanks; trout feeding by hand for 25 cents; pirate treasure sand dig; “John Darts” throwing game; and balloon animals for a donation.
Arts and crafts vendors and local merchants, Freshwater Farms of Ohio Farm Market and Champaign County Farmers Market vendors in the afternoons.
Craft beers, wine, margaritas and other beverages served at Charlie’s Bar.
Freshwater shrimp sales will be 10 a.m. Sept. 17 until sold out, near the admission gate and farm retail store.
A shrimp eating contest will be 3 p.m. Sept. 17.
There will be tables and chairs set up in front of the outdoor stage and lawn chairs and blankets are always welcome. Some entertainment will be under tents. Music will feature several genres, including an all-Celtic lineup the final Saturday.
“We really invested in better bands this year, it’s such an important part of the experience,” Smith said.
Bands will include:
Hendy (classic rock, country and blues}, 1-2:30 p.m.; Eleyet and McConnell (multiple genres), 4-5:30 p.m.; Dawna (rock), 6-7:30 p.m.; and Angela Perley (alt-country, psychedelic rock and Americana), 8-10 p.m.
Mill Street Blues (acoustic blues trio), 1-2:30 p.m.; Al Son Del Iya (salsa band), 4-5:30 p.m.; Fo/Mo/Deep (jazz/funk/fusion trio), 6-7:30 p.m.; Teeny Tucker (blues vocalist), 8-10 p.m.
Johnny O (classic rock, ‘80s, ‘90s), 1-2:30 p.m.; Ladies of Longford (contemporary Celtic and traditional Irish), 4-5:30 p.m.; Dulahan (contemporary and traditional Celtic), 6-7:30 p.m.; Bastard Bearded Irishmen (blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic music, punk, gypsy and rock n’ roll), 8-10 p.m.
The pandemic allowed Freshwater Farms business to continue and get a lot of work done including adding more food items. Smith is glad the farm is becoming a more year-round place to enjoy beyond just the festival.
“We want people to enjoy the venue, to relax and the scene is friendly,” said Smith.
Festival admission is $5 for ages 13 and up; $2 for kids ages 3-12; and free for age 2 and under. Parking is free with gate admission.
For more information, go to fwfarms.com/festival.
About the Author