Kent Heritage Festival returns to showcase nonprofits in its 27th year

The 27th Annual Kent Heritage Festival will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 2.

After the event was canceled in 2020 and scaled back significantly in 2021, this year’s event will be smaller than those in previous years. 

“We are taking the festival back to its roots by giving our local nonprofit organizations the opportunity to have a booth and sell their products,” Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Interim Director Michelle Hartman said.

Those groups will set up on the Main Street bridge, where the Kent Junior Mothers will offer a children’s activity area. The Kent Fire Department and Kent Police Department will also display their trucks, squad cars and safety equipment, and they will offer demonstrations throughout the day.

North Water Street will be closed from Main Street to Columbus Street, with local food vendors and booths highlighting Kent’s many restaurants. Among other vendors, Trinity Lutheran Church will offer kettle corn and local Boy Scouts will be selling cotton candy.

Once past the open-air “food midway,” visitors can view classic vehicles that will line North Water Street from Columbus Street to Portage Street. The vehicle display may extend to Brady Street, depending on how many entrants sign up, Hartman said. The car show will close at 2 p.m., when that part of North Water will reopen to traffic.

Live entertainment, always a festival highlight, will be performed from noon to 10 p.m. on two stages: Hometown Bank Plaza at Main Street and North Water Street, and at the nearby Dan Smith Community Park.

The usual array of artisan and craft vendors will not be included in the festival. Kent’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), which encompasses most of downtown, will be open for business, rest and relaxation.

West Main Street from Water Street to Gougler Avenue will be closed. Traffic will continue as usual along South Water Street, but motorists will need to make a right onto Main Street.

The Kent Jaycees’ Ducks Down The River is back, so look for the Kent Fire Department to help out with that fundraiser at about 6 p.m. The KFD will drop the ducks (they’re plastic) off the Main Street bridge, where they will float down the river to the left of the falls and flow down to Tannery Park.

Tickets for the ducks will be $5 each, $20 for a flock of five, or $40 for a cluster flock. The first duck to cross the finish line will gain its ticket holder a $1,000 grand prize. Smaller prizes (gift cards to local businesses) will also be awarded. Ticket holders need not be present to win.

A 10 p.m. fireworks display will round out the festival.

Sponsors include the City of Kent, NOPEC, Hometown Bank, AMETEK, Brimfield Insurance Group, Grange Insurance and University Hospitals Portage Medical Center.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.