By: Hana Fuller
Kicking off the season in Northeast Ohio, campers bundle up to escape their cabin fever and enjoy a weekend of outside live entertainment. “The EarlyBird” festival gets it name for being the first festival of the season for Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, taking place April 24th & 25th 2019 in Garrettsville, Ohio. The Quarry park is nestled beside Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park, home of a 167-acre picnic and hiking heaven.
As legend has it, the Quarry park was once an operating sandstone quarry. Late in 1950, a piece of machinery dug too far, hitting a live spring and caused the 30-acre hole to fill within 3 days. The Quarry was closed til purchased in 1972 with intentions for a campground. The State Park (adjacant to NLQP) is well known for their sandstone cliff formations. Offering different hiking paths, some more dangerous than others. Almost 3 miles of main hiking trails, all trails using a color-coding marking system.
Now, the Ledges hosts some of the greatest music festivals in Ohio. On off weekends, regular camping is encouraged as the woods are recharging their energy. Regardless of shows or not, the water will be open for swimming Memorial Day, and is kid friendly in every sense of the word. Inflate your tubes at the corner store (Tie Dye Lisa’s) or purchase your own. Enjoy ice cream treats on the beach and an occasional wave from the kayakers in the distance. Pack your picnics for your day at the beach, or check out ‘Shakedown Street’. A sandy lane off shore from beach, offering local handmade goods and delicious food vendors. It is a true shakedown street, offering so many unique and beautiful vendors. The true spirit of the ledges lies within these hard working people, the twinkle in their eye has never dimmed over the years. Dedicating their summer to share their gifts of the trade and to build their community as they see it.
After catching sun at the beach and making friends with the vendors, take a walk in the woods. On a weekend with no event, you will find the woods mostly to yourselves. You’ll get any pick of a camping spot you would want, with little forest animals to help you find your way. During the day, take a scroll and sing with the birds. Different paths will lead you different areas of the woods, let the canopies of nature embrace you as you adventure. Feel free to take pictures to the ever changing waters and sun setting over the quarry. If there was an outdoor music event….the woods….it’s been said, come alive at night. It is where the real magic happens. When night sets, expect to see fire performances on the beach, light up LED hula-hoopers, people selling art under flashlights, forest art installations lit up by glow sticks. People in circus type outfits and makeup, smiling and dancing under trees that protect the spirits overhead. Acoustic guitars, bongo drums around campfires, making up songs as they go, campers truly are encouraged to be at peace and comfort here.
Wound up from that nights show. Keeping the music in their hearts. The lights in their eyes. The memories in their minds. A show of lights, musical acts, neighbors at your left and right. Some call Nelson Ledges “Heaven on Earth” and one visit will show you why.
Tickets are available at the gate for Earlybird Festival, it’s only $70 for Friday through Sunday, and Thursday passes can be added on. Find all ticket information here.