Historic downtown Hartville was all about games and fun Sunday as more than 1,500 people came out to play during the villages' fourth annual Get Out and Play Fest.
Grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles were seen playing the games and enjoying the music, crafts and food with their kids. Visitors came from far away to enjoy the day.
"It was so nice to open up the downtown, not only to the community but to the region," said event coordinator Megan Wise. "It was fantastic."
The fest is a giant family event where kids take over downtown Hartville. Wise said it is due to the fantastic community partners that attend that make the day possible. More than 40 community organizations, churches and businesses came together to put on what was a super-sized summer block party.
"The Y was here, the school was here and everyone had great activities," she said.
Activities included the Girl Scouts helping kids to paint rocks, while Adventure Place had a beach-themed booth where kids could play with beach balls, make sand art necklaces and paint sea shells. PNC Bank continued that theme with a treasure hunt, which took place in sand. Lake Center Christian School was making necklaces, fidget spinners and other crafts suitable for children of a variety of ages. Stark Parks had a life size connect four game where there were kids playing all day. At Best Bib and Tucker, owned by Wise, kids made jump ropes.
"I liked watching the grandfathers come in to try to figure out how to make the rope machine so they could recreate it," Wise said.
Touch a Truck was a huge attraction for all ages, including the adults. From a SWAT and fire truck to heavy construction equipment, families got a chance to see the vehicles up close and feel what it is like to be in the driver's seat.
It was an all around fun day and festival-goers were invited to pick up a paint brush and help add the first coat to Hartville Elevator's iconic mural which is scheduled to be repainted this summer.
"The sound is my favorite part of the day" said Wise, referring to the laughs of the children and their families as well as the Youth Music Showcase which, provides the soundtrack for the event.
Musicians and vocalists ages 12-22 compete to earn visitor votes and ultimately vying for "People’s Choice" and cash prizes. This year, top price went to Caroline Pastore, a 14-year-old Lake Middle School student, who took home $499.62. She plans on donating some of her winnings to Lake Township FISH food pantry and putting the rest toward her class trip.
Second place went to Lauren Meadows, age 13, Field Middle School, who won $100 and third place went to Tessa Smith-Kintz, age 14, Hoover High School. She took home $50. There were 12 acts with performers ranging in age from 13-19 and representing seven area schools. The showcase was coordinated by Candice Verbic at Snags and Wags Barkery. Her husband, Mike, ran the sound for the day. Prizes were sponsored by The Piano Studio and Hartville Barber Shop.
"As a former musician it's good to give back to the community by encouraging the next generation of performers," said Verbic.
The party ran from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There was so much to do, many families stayed the entire four hours. Downtown shops and restaurants were open and many were seen testing the sample chocolates from Hartville Chocolate's sample dish. Visitors tried out pizza, doughnuts, shopped in the shops and the newest downtown shop, Fiesta Creations, filled piñatas for lines of kids to take aim. Hartville RV gave kids rides through downtown on its barrel train and raised more than $175 for the FISH food pantry.
"The activities are varied so every kid can find their favorite, said Wise.
Even mascots got in the act like Webster from Akron the RubberDucks, Pozzie from the Canton Charge and Louie the Lightning Bug from First Energy were on hand. Concorde Therapy had a timed obstacle course set up and Pozzie was giving high fives at the finish line. The YMCA did a fitness flash mob in which visitors were able to join.
"One of our goals, as a downtown group, is to make downtown a gathering place," said Wise. "Instead of putting a big committee together to plan a festival we put a call out to local businesses, churches, and organizations and say you are invited to a party downtown. Like a family picnic where everyone brings a side dish, at Get Out and Play everyone brings an activity."
Wise said it's one of their favorite days of the year.
"Our business are honored to sponsor and put together a day that brings so many people to downtown," she said.
The next downtown event will be held Aug. 26. It's called DIY in the 'Ville. Downtown shops will be hosting short DIY classes, demos, make and takes, and activities. It's geared toward adults and teens. The event information will be updated at www.discoverhartville.com/downtown.