LOGAN – The Hocking Hills welcomed back the Washboard Festival Thursday evening for the 20th year.
Hundreds turned out to celebrate the return of Ohio’s “most unusual festival” in downtown Logan on a sunny summer evening. The festival was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From Columbus to Hocking County, people from all over came to Main Street to experience the fun that is Washboard Fest.
The free festival had its opening ceremony at 6 p.m., and shortly after Columbus-based music group Sugar Creek Bluegrass performed an opening set on the Market Street stage.
At 7 p.m., nationally known gospel group The Isaacs performed for what could be called an outdoor “full house,” with a large audience filling both Worthington Park and Market Street.
George Brown conducted the signature washboard train, this year named “Chucky Choo Choo,” which was sanitized after each use. The train was packed with small, smiling faces and waving hands.
The train also came with a siren, alerting crowds to happy kids coming their way. Children also got to enjoy a stage of their own, set up on Market Street, complete with bubbles and Hocking Hills Inflatables.
A wide variety of vendors – around 40 – set up on Main Street. From fair food such as funnel cakes and lemonade, to American summer staples such as fried fish and barbecue, the festival offered a variety of eats for any appetite.
Along with food vendors, the festival hosted a wide variety of products and services, too; everything from a jewelry stand to a fortune teller. Nature’s Token, a Waverly-based mother and daughter vendor, told The Logan Daily News it saw lots of business even before the festival technically began.
Cathy and Jordan Barker of Nature’s Token set up around 11:30 a.m. and began seeing people around 2 p.m.; the festival didn’t officially start until 6 p.m. It’s their first time at the festival, Cathy said.
“(It’s going) really good,” Cathy said. “All of our stuff has to do with nature. Like the fossils and gemstones and then (Jordan) does nature photography and all-natural dog treats; leather. Yeah, we have quite the variety. Dream catchers that are all-natural, and flower crowns.”
Bobby Lott came down with her husband from Pataskala, Ohio to see musical opener Columbus-based bluegrass group Sugar Creek Bluegrass. Lott is friends with some of the band members’ grandparents, she said. It was the Lotts first time at Washboard. “So far, so good,” she said.
Others came out to the festival for the food. Greg Hall, a Logan resident, told The Logan Daily News he comes to Washboard every year for the cuisine. “I look forward to it every year,” Hall said. His favorite food stand is Madison’s Favorite Fish, a Lancaster-based food truck.
Like Hall, Logan resident Judy Lynch said she looks forward to the festival every year. She came out with her great-grandkids and daughter. “I like the music,” Lynch said. She said she’d be attending each day of the festival.
Many families and individuals expressed their excitement to be at a public outing for the first time in over a year. Chris and Melinda Bookman of Logan came out with their two children, the second time they’ve attended the festival.
“It’s nice to be around people again,” Chris said. “And I’m not wearing a mask in 100-degree weather.”
Chris, originally of Nelsonville, remarked that the Washboard Festival is a great thing for Logan. His wife Melinda commented on the unique nature of the festival. “It’s a neat thing,” she said. “It’s great for the town and for the people, and we love that it’s family friendly, too.”
The Washboard Festival continues through the weekend and draws upwards of 5,000 visitors. Friday will kick off at 4 p.m. for a night full of bluegrass music, starting with the Barefoot McCoy and ending with The Cleverlys at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s festivities will begin at 2 p.m. with a performance by the Hocking County Children’s Chorus and will conclude with a performance by The Live 35 Band beginning at 7 p.m.
Saturday will also feature activities for people with disabilities and quiet hours for people with sensory needs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a Washboard first. Also on Saturday, as well as Friday, there will be “olde world” artisan demonstrations, including stone carving and leather working. The artisan pieces will be auctioned off on Saturday.
A quilt show is also on display at the Bowen House, 196 N. Market St., from noon to 5 p.m. There are also artist demonstrations at Homegrown on Main, 65 W. Main St., from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A full schedule and more information can be found online at washboardfest.org.
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