Kids in the Watermelon Eating Contest at the Dresden Melon Festival (photo courtesy of the Dresden Melon Festival)

8 Festivals to Enjoy in Ohio’s Appalachian Region This Summer

From live music along the Ohio River to small-town traditions, check out these festivals in the foothills. 

Fans at the Secret Dreams Music and Arts Festival (photo by Adam Berta Photography, courtesy of Secret Dreams Music and Arts Festival)Secret Dreams Music and Arts Festival | July 18-20 
Spend three days in Thornville packed with art and music entertainment that runs the gamut of genres and tastes. There is truly something for anyone, from live painters and yoga classes to interactive displays and artisans. Music is the main draw here, with more than 60 acts in the lineup. Electronic music artists Tipper headlines the weekend, with other acts in the mix including Barclay Crenshaw, Jade Cicada, The Disco Biscuits and others across afternoon, evening and late-night sets.

Frankfort Sunflower Festival | July 27-28 
Celebrate this sunny and bright summer flower at this festival in Frankfort that covers two days of fun in the foothills. Start the day on Saturday with a pancake breakfast put on by the local fire department and a cornhole tournament, followed by a pie auction and live comedy. Carnival games and bouncy houses are also available both days of the festival for the little ones. Sunday brings live gospel music performances, a car show, kiddie tractor pull and more.   

Big Bend Blues and Brews Bash | Aug. 2-3 
Gather with fellow music fans along the Ohio Riverfront to enjoy back-to-back days or blues, folk and rock acts. Bring a lawn chair and grab a beer at Pomeroy’s Riverside Amphitheater to see performances by The Cold Stares, Bywater Call, Johnny Rawls, Philip Sayce and more. Those looking to make a weekend out of their trip to the festival can enjoy camping within the village of Pomeroy in either a tent or RV, and pets are welcome at the festival as well.

Presenter at Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival in Logan (photo courtesy of Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival)Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival | Aug. 2-3
Look for legends and lore at this locally loved festival in the Hocking Hills region dedicated to one of America’s most famous cryptids. This free summer celebration is fit for the whole family and includes Bigfoot-themed activities like the Squatch ‘N Seek scavenger hunt, Walk like Squatch and Hocking Howler Competition, where you can make your best Bigfoot noises for a chance at a prize. This year also brings Squatchy-Oke, where attendees have a chance to take the mic and sing hit songs using Bigfoot-themed lyrics.

Metal Lawn Sculptures by Jon Schaeffer at the Y-Bridge Arts Festival (photo courtesy of the Y-Bridge Arts Festival)Y-Bridge Arts Festival | Aug. 2-3 
Peruse work form local artisans in the heart of our state’s Y-Bridge City at this annual festival put on by the Artist Colony of Zanesville. For two days, around 75 artisans take over Market Street in downtown Zanesville to sell all manner of products from wood crafts and clothing to paintings and drawings. The free festival also has plenty of food truck options, live music acts and activities for the little ones to enjoy across both days.

Watermelon Eating Contest Contestants at the Dresden Melon Festival (photo courtesy of Dresden Melon Festival)Dresden Melon Festival | Aug. 3 
Watermelon isn’t just a summertime staple, it’s woven into Dresden’s history, as the area has a history of growing melon varieties in its rich, riverfront soli. The festival at Dresden River Park is set against the backdrop of the Muskingum River and provides a day of family fun with a car cruise in, petting zoo, corn hole tournament and melon eating and seed spitting contests. Stick around for the Melon Derby to see decorated melons on wheels race for the finish line and enjoy live music from acts like Barefoot McCoy and Appalachian Outlaws.

Live Music at the Barton Polka Fest (photo courtesy of Visit Belmont County)Barton Polka Festival | Aug. 4
Gear up for Appalachia’s annual polka party at this year’s Barton Polka Festival. Live music fills the entire day of this free festival and invites folks out on the dance floor to try their hand at styles like square dancing. Be sure to stick around for a meal of homemade Polish foods, as well as raffle drawings, games and face painting and activities for the kids. The longstanding tradition of the Barton Polka Festival celebrates Polish immigrants in the area, who came to Barton looking for work when it was a mining town.

Bike Riders at the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival in Marietta (photo courtesy of the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival)Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival | Aug. 8-11 
Explore all the natural wonders the riverfront city of Marietta has to offer during this annual celebration. Take a kayak out on the river, or go for a hike or mountain biking ride along one of the trails accessible from the city’s East Muskingum Park. Guests can also enjoy guided activities like a Tai Chi class, recovery ride and a paddle and hike expedition to Buckley Island. After a jam packed day, unwind in the historic district with a glass of beer from one of the local stops.