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Old West End Historic Festival returns after COVID dry spell

The festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. It returns the first weekend of June with new additions and old traditions.

TOLEDO, Ohio — After two years without the Old West End Historic Festival in Toledo due to COVID-19, the weekend celebration is back for the 49th time from Friday to Sunday with a "footprint bigger than it's ever been," according to Daniel Finkel, the festival's public relations chair.

The bigger footprint comes from the festival expanding its reach beyond the historic section of the Old West End by including day-long events at Glenwood Park on Saturday and Sunday.

"As you get away from those big, giant mansions, you get to more reasonable houses that have always been a part of the neighborhood," Finkel said. "The Old West End itself extends beyond the historic district."

The public portion of the festival kicks off with music, food and beer at the Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum Stage Friday evening from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Longstanding traditions are also returning. Finkel said the "real kick-off" to the festival is 113th Anniversary King Wamba Carnival Parade on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

The parade's roots go deeper than the festival itself, first held in Toledo on Aug. 26, 1909, promoted as "the Mardi Gras of the North," according to the Toledo History Museum.

An annual King Wamba and Queen Sancha are coronated at the parade. This year, Andrew Newby and Kristin Kiser, owners of Toledo's Black Kite Coffee, will be crowned on the front steps of the Toledo Museum of Art.

Registration for the parade and more information can be found here.

Saturday's festivities continue until 11 p.m.:

  • Marketplace/ArtFair: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • House Tours 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • ARJA Stage (The Arboretum): Noon to 11 p.m.
  • Glenwood Park: Noon to 8 p.m.
  • Kid’s Area: Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Art Fair Stage: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday begins with the OWE 5K Stampede at 9 a.m. It starts at the Symphony Building at 1838 Parkwood Ave. and ends at the intersection of Parkwood and Jefferson avenues by the Glass Pavilion.

Credit: Old West End Association
The map shows routes for the parade, 5K and more.

Five of the neighborhood's historic homes will also be toured Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Not every event during the festival is open to the public though. Wednesday will feature a tour of some houses ending at a social event Edward D. and Florence S. Libbey House.

The Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum will have a "neighbors only" social event Thursday night, and the festival will conclude with a "neighbors only" event at Macelwane Park Sunday evening.

With the packed weekend coming up Finkel is excited about the festival's return.

He was also the festival's public relations chair in 2019, his first year being involved in the planning.

Finkel has been a longtime attendee, since before he moved into the Old West End in 2011.

Showing off the neighborhood and the art in it through the festival is a point of pride for him and other residents of the neighborhood, he said.

"Art and artists are part of our culture," he said. "It's a neighborhood we are very, very proud of."

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