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{UPDATED} Hold that corndog: Three popular summer events latest to cancel

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Adding to the misery of this persistent rain is yet another blow to regular summertime programming. Both the Ohio State Fair and Jazz & Rib Fest announced their cancellations today but with a promise to be back in 2021.

The Jazz & Rib Fest was scheduled be held July 24-26 at Bicentennial Park and Genoa Park on the Scioto Mile. The event brings tens of thousands of locals together for a mix of Jazz music and barbecue from traveling teams from across the nation.

But by far the biggest cancellation of the day is the State Fair which sees nearly a million people during its almost two-week run.

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“After careful thought and deliberation, we have decided to cancel the Ohio State Fair. Knowing how easily the virus spreads in large groups, we believe it is the safest path forward for the health and safety of all Ohioans.” Andy Doehrel, chair of the Ohio Expositions Commission said in a press release. “The financial ramifications of hosting a reduced-capacity Fair would be too great, and we need to protect the great Ohio State Fair for future generations.”

This adds to the growing list of summer events that have been cancelled for the year or postponed to a later date. These include:

  • ComFest – moved to September 2020
  • Columbus Arts Festival – cancelled
  • Pride – moved to October 3, 2020
  • The Memorial Tournament – moved to July 13-19, 2020
  • Red, White & Boom! – cancelled

Status on 33rd annual Dublin Irish Festival

A flurry of summer festival cancellations has overwhelmed us all throughout May. Now, a longstanding, Columbus-area tradition just recently announced it will be joining the summer events graveyard.

After 32 consecutive years of bringing out the best of Ireland in Dublin, the city of Dublin announced on Thursday that the 33rd edition of the Dublin Irish Festival wouldn’t be happening in 2020.

The Dublin Irish Festival issued this statement: 

The safety of our guests, volunteers, staff and participants is our top priority. The challenges of adhering to social-distancing guidelines, assuring fiscal responsibility and maintaining the highest quality entertainment experience also factored heavily into the decision.

Originally set to take place between July 31 and August 2, the event will now be moved to August 6-8. Those who purchased a ticket will have a chance to either refund or transfer their tickets.

The Dublin Irish Festival is seeking out innovative ideas to keep the community engaged during this time. Stay tuned to its website for further details.

BBQ got its deep hooks into me when I had a business in Austin, TX – you know, the home of dry rub, beef and sausage. I’ve indulged on pulled pork in NC topped with slaw and drenched in vinegar sauce and the savory of Memphis-style ribs to the sweetness of Kansas City. Columbus has its own mix of styles, like so many other cuisines that find a home in our midwest oasis.

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Arts & Culture

Summer Camp Soap Opera

J.R. McMillan

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Young screenwriters shocked by surprise casting at Thurber House

Summer camp is a rite of passage wrapped in revelry, rivalry, and romance — all the makings of a must-see soap opera. But when Thurber House (humorist James Thurber’s former home turned local literary center) rushed to push their summer camps online this year, they feared some of that creative connectivity might be lost among aspiring young writers.

Hoping for a hook, camp counselors Justin Martin and Frankie Diederich decided to challenge campers with a genre they’d never tackled before: writing an original soap opera. Entirely on a whim, Martin took to Twitter to see if anyone happened to have a connection to the industry.


“I genuinely didn’t expect it to go anywhere, I didn’t even tag anyone. But an hour later I had half the cast of Days of Our Lives,” recalled Martin, whose disbelief still lingers. It was a plot twist even campers didn’t see coming. “California’s stay-home order was so uncertain, we never knew when everyone might go back to work. Even when we told writers and their parents the night before the performances, some of them didn’t believe us.

Though daytime television isn’t an obvious obsession for middle school students, nearly every novel of young adult fiction is essentially a soap opera. And Days of Our Lives is set in the fictional Midwest city of Salem — folksy yet sophisticated, and never short on scandal, not unlike Columbus, Ohio. It’s a short stretch that only seems non sequitur.

“Everyone started with a blank page, but by the end of the week, Frankie and I had helped them create a complete screenplay. But the cast was still a shock,” Martin explained. “Kids admire anyone who has made a career out of doing something they love, and these actors and actresses were so enthusiastic, flexible, and generous. They were every bit as into it as the campers.”

It was actress Martha Madison who happened to see a retweet of Martin’s request and matter-of-factly replied, “Can I bring some friends?” She soon roped in more than a dozen of her costars, all equally eager to give a bunch of adolescent screenwriters the performance they deserved despite a pandemic.

“I’m a big believer in fate. It was an easy ask, everyone said yes,” revealed Madison, better known to many as Belle Black. Her character’s parents John and Marlena have been synonymous with Days of Our Lives for decades. “There was so much character development, and they all had love and murder in the plot. They were real soap operas.”


Like many nonprofits struggling to adapt, the shift to online programming has actually expanded the reach of Thurber House. Much like parents working remotely, kids from across Ohio, and from New York to California, also received insightful lessons in craft and collaboration from screenwriter Amanda Beall, whose credits include The Young and the Restless, All My Children, and General Hospital.

“If you’re a creative person, none of that goes away just because you’re stuck at home. You can still share your experience with anyone anywhere,” Madison noted. “I was very impressed with the writing. I’d love to work again with any one of these kids someday.”

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For more on Thurber House and upcoming events and programs, visit thurberhouse.org

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Rare flower ready to stink up 2020 at the Franklin Park Conservatory

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Photo provided by Franklin Park Conservatory.

“Some people wait a lifetime to see this,” said Bruce Harkey, president and CEO of Franklin Park Conservatory. 

What someone will wait a lifetime to see (or smell) varies from person to person. If watching a massive flower bloom and let out a wretched odor is your thing, you better keep a close eye on the Conservatory.

According to a press release sent out Wednesday, the endangered Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) will flower in the next week for the first time in the Conservatory’s history. The flower can grow to 10 feet tall and emits a strong odor, resembling rotting flesh. While the “corpse flower” only blooms for a few days, those who go to the FPC to visit it will not soon forget it.

And while it may seem that 2020 could not get any weirder with its masks and murder hornets,  this particular brand of weird is actually kind of cool—and it’s in our own backyard.

Check out the FPC social channels, where you can view the bloom live, or head to the Conservatory to smell it in person, though the required mask may prevent a full whiff of the dreadful stench. But if you dare, you can buy your timed tickets online here.

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Columbus Museum of Art opens June 23 for members; June 30 to the public

Julian Foglietti

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The Columbus Museum of Art (CMA)  has announced plans to reopen in the coming week after closing in mid-March due to COVID restrictions. Though museums were allowed to open on June 10, CMA chose to hold off reopening and will instead see it’s first visitors tomorrow,  June 23, as they reopen for museum members, and to the general public next week on June 30..

To coincide with the reopening, CMA has announced multiple measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as significantly reduced capacity, and the introduction of timed tickets, and special hours for at-risk populations.

Tickets for the following week will be made available for sale online each Friday, and an extremely limited number of tickets will be available for day-of admission. While there isn’t a time limit to how long visitors can stay in the museum, there is a one hour entrance window assigned to each ticket. 

Visitors will be asked to socially distance while in the space, and face coverings are strongly recommended. 

Learn more here.

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