Dealing with these crowds takes foresight. You’ll need a plan, or you’ll waste time spinning your wheels.
Even best-laid plans can hiccup when it comes to parking and traffic jams. Patience is the only cure for these. Festival organizers advise to go early to secure your parking spot and plan for the time spent waiting in departing traffic.
Stargazing is a popular side sport of festival-goers waiting for fireworks.
Favorite locations are the restaurants Desert Inn, John’s Bar, Mulligan’s and Bender’s, but you’ll find the famous most everywhere. Here’s the rundown on what to expect for this year’s events:
PLAN ON THESE
Balloon Classic Invitational, Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks: About 130,000 spectators are forecast, peaking with the fireworks. Friday, July 25, 4-11:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 26, 6 a.m. and 4-11:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 27, 6 a.m., Kent State University Stark Campus. Free event.
5-mile and 2-mile races: More than 1,600 athletes will run and walk to the finish line at the Hall of Fame. A 400-meter Kids Fun Run has been added, with costumed characters. Sunday, July 27, 8 a.m., Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Community Parade: Join in on a traditional hometown parade. Sunday, July 27, 2:30 p.m. Downtown Canton. Free event.
National Ribs Burnoff: Dozens of local and national vendors plus entertainment will attract more than 135,000 hungry folks to the Stark County Fairgrounds. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, July 30 – 31,Aug. 1, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily. Free event. For evening concert tickets, call (330) 458-2088.
First Play of 2008: Nearly 2,000 youngsters will help kick off the NFL season by forming a 3-mile chain from downtown Canton (where the NFL was formed) to the Hall of Fame. Thursday, July 31, 10 a.m., downtown Canton.
Fashion Show Luncheon: The largest fashion show in Ohio, with 35 models in a choreographed extravaganza. Friday, Aug. 1, noon, Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center for the Arts.
Enshrinees Dinner: 4,000 guests join celebrities, current and retired football stars and coaches to salute the Class of 2008 enshrinees. Friday,Aug. 1, 6:30 p.m., Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center for the Arts.
Timken Grand Parade: 200,000 viewers are expected along the 2.2-mile route as floats, bands, helium balloons, and current and past enshrinees pass. Saturday, Aug. 2, 8 a.m., downtown Canton.
Enshrinement: The emotional peak of the festival as enshrinees enter the Hall of Fame. Sunday,Aug. 3, 12:30 p.m., Fawcett Stadium.
Concert and Fireworks downtown: More than 100,000 people are expected for the area’s largest fireworks show — 20 explosive minutes after a military-band concert. Saturday,Aug. 2, 6 p.m., downtown Canton. Free event.
Enshrinees GameDay Roundtable: 3,500 fans are expected for lunch and a conversation among the enshrinees. Sunday, Aug. 3, 12:30 p.m., Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center for the Arts.
Hall of Fame Game: The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins kick off the 2008 NFL preseason in front of 23,000 at Fawcett Stadium. Sunday,Aug. 3, 8 p.m., Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium.
Drum Corps International Competition: Eight of the best drum corps in the nation compete one week before the world championship. Monday, Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m., Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. For tickets, call (330) 458-2048.