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41st Annual Old West End Festival Highlightsby Emily Rippe
Some might consider Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer, but for Toledoans, the first weekend of June is when the party really gets hot. Saturday, June 2 kicks off the 41st Annual Old West End Festival, and this year holds a few surprises with special parade guests, the Neighborhood Watch: A Projection Walk, and the impressive line up of musical acts spanning six stages.
OWE Fest 2012 begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday with the King Wamba Parade, a tradition that originated in Toledo, Spain as early as the 7th century. The parade made its triumphant return back in 2007 right here in NW Ohio, and has been one of the festival's biggest crowd-pleasers ever since.
"I'm excited for the collective energy the parade has generated," said Parade Chair Jeni Belt, who listed several parade participants including Raq the Casbah, Boogaloosa Prayer, Glass City Doll, Glass City Rollers, Scott HS Marching Band, two "Any Wednesday" bands, Punching Buddha, El Diablo, the Detroit Party Marching Band, JJs Express, art cars, TSA, and the pooch parade.
But the biggest news for Belt and the rest of the parade-goers is the addition of several Cirque du Soleil performers who contacted Belt and requested to be in the parade before they hit the Huntington stage next week to delight audiences in Quidam.
For prime seating, and a chance to view of the Coronation of the 2012 Kind Wamba (Mark Moffett) and Queen Sancha (Condessa Croninger), seek out a space on Collingwood between Bancroft and Mansion View Inn.
Of course, the parade is just the beginning of OWE Fest. Visitors have the opportunity to tour seven historic homes in the neighborhood, including Mansion View Inn, The LaPlante Home, The Blevens-Minnich Home, The Terhune-Sherman Lindberg Home, The Todd-Sampayo Home, The Hayes Home and The Killets Home. These are just a select few of the late 19th and early 20th century homes that exemplify the historic neighborhood's various architectural styles. While marveling at the homes, be sure to check out the numerous yard sales offering everything from antiques and furniture to movies, books, records, art, clothing and more.
A unique feature to this year's festival is the Neighborhood Watch: A Projection Walk, running from 9-11 p.m. on Saturday at select houses on Robinwood and Scottwood Avenues between Virginia and Delaware. Organized and curated by Tart Projects founder Kimberly Adams, this pedestrian tour utilizes the outside of houses as projection screens for artists to showcase their digital images and short film projects. The purpose of this project is twofold: to promote a reinvigorated sense of community and to provide a venue for artists who typically wouldn't get to exhibit at a public event.
"So many of my acquaintances and friends are from the Old West End, and have been very supportive of the initiatives that I am heading," Adams said. "This project is a way for me to give something back to the community for all their support and encouragement."
20 artists from Toledo and the cities of Seattle, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Pueblo are presenting their take on "Public & Private Space" at 6 houses in the neighborhood. For a complete itinerary, visit Tart Projects on Facebook.
Hungry for more arts and entertainment? Visit the grounds of TMA's Glass Pavillion to meet world class juried artists from Toledo and beyond. The Art Fair runs both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. And in case you missed it, Toledo.com published a complete schedule of this weekend's music events, which includes a Toledo.com sponsored stage at Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum, the OWE Festival Main Stage, and four porch party concerts. The line up includes an array of local, regional and national acts all weekend long.
Whether its the first weekend of June or not, the historic Old West End neighborhood always has a reason or two to celebrate. Belt, who moved there "temporarily" in 2007 sums it up perfectly.
"As in the case with so many others, the neighborhood got into my blood and temporary become permanent," she said. "Our community is special for its shared appreciation or architecture and history, its inclusiveness, and its creativity and passion. My neighbors are my friends and my friends are my neighbors."
For more information, visit www.toledooldwestend.com/owe-festival.
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