The Official Parent’s Guide to Independents’ Day

It is the end of an era. For a decade, the Independents’ Day team (which I am honored to be a part of) has helped cultivate creative collaborations and inspire the independent artists, musicians, business owners and leaders of Columbus. This weekend is the final showcase of this annual event, but don’t worry, we have much bigger plans for the future! It is time to strategically abdicate in an effort to make room and opportunity for the next round of creatives to take over.

What began as a fun little beer-fueled street fair back in 2007 has slowly become a vibrant multifaceted celebration of all things Columbus. Through the ID years, our community aged with us, and they, like we, now have children. The festival has adapted to this, but I don’t think we have done it justice by talking enough about how family-friendly we have become. Thus, below are my 10 suggestions towards a parent’s guide to IDX!

  1. kID. In the sixth year of the festival, Ashley Baker (now the 2017 chair of Urban Scrawl and a board member with the Franklinton Arts District), was pregnant and noticed that all of our old friends were pushing strollers and wearing kids on their chests (literally). She noted the calm atmosphere that supported it, but recognized the lack of programming. The following year, Ashley officially joined the leadership team, created a welcoming space behind the Idea Foundry, and started what would become our first festival within the festival. In its sophomore year, she stepped it up with more amenities and more diverse partners. This year they have partnered with Mt. Carmel to bring in a touch-a-truck with their mobile wellness set up. By square foot density, during its open hours, this has become one of the most popular places at all of Independents’ Day!

  2. The music. Everything about the music this year is special. Dereck Dupont and Patrick Locy created the rule for bands to be added that they needed to produce something new and unique. We have bands with choirs, symphonic pieces, projection screens, etc. And this starts at noon each day. Through the generous support of the GCAC, Columbus Foundation and neighboring community partners, we are honored to be able to pay our artists to perform. Bring headphones for the little ones because everyone will enjoy these parts of the party.

  3. The Taivara Trails app. From the folks who digitized the Columbus Coffee Trail and the Short North Art Walks we proudly present the official Independents’ Day app. Think of this as Pokemon Go for our festival goers. All you have to do is visit the mobile site, pick your team (good or evil) and enjoy the festival. By checking in at different locations and for special performances, you can earn points, which you can later redeem at the CD102.5 booth for awesome prizes. This game is fun for everyone, but best when shared with our little friends.

  4. Arrive hungry, leave satisfied. The Independents’ Day food team is amazing and the former food Lieutenant Shelley Mann (food expert, writer and organizer) is now the Captain of this year’s festival, so her team is holding no punches. In addition to the most highly curated line up of Columbus food trucks, they also have a special brunch and a tent in the center of the festival showcasing all things independently delicious.

  5. Speaking of delicious, retired Captain Jacob Wooten has come back with a vengeance over the past several years to create an incredible local drink land/beer garden. Along with wine and liquor, dozens of breweries are bringing their best. Always drink responsibly, have a DD, buy your wife/husband/partner/buddy something nice because some of these drinks will never be available again.

  6. Volunteer. Please set a good example for the minis, plus it is fun.

  7. Tortilla has partnered with EcoLyfe Designs to create a gigantic piñata. This is one of those things that we do not really understand yet, but are looking forward to the unveiling. From what I gather, EcoLyfe is building this giant pinata and anyone can paint it during the day on Saturday. Then on Sunday, it is going to be hoisted up and Walter from Tortilla/Loco Sweets is going to lead the children (and adult children) through an exercise to smash it, releasing hundreds of pounds of traditional Mexican candy and free taco coupons.

  8. Speaking of art things we do not really understand yet, our artists have paired up and created a giant drone-powered floating cloud. Yup! Really weird, perfectly Independents’ Day.

  9. New Americans. There will be a lovely small village. This village is made up of a dozen vendors from every corner of the globe that now call Columbus home. This initiative started at ID last year and has expanded its showcase at Comfest and Hot Times. Thanks to the generous support of Puffin Foundation West and leadership support of Gale Gray, this small section of the festival plot offers international vendors a chance to sell goods, mix, mingle, and collaborate. It is really a beautiful thing, and in a world where our kids are surrounded by negativity in the news, this is a great example of a united world in our own backyard.

  10. Seriously, go to kID. Ashley, Ryan, and their team have worked non-stop for the last three years to make the best festival for our next generation of rockers, rollers, artists, and leaders.

Bringing an end to this chapter is fairly bittersweet, but the opportunity to share it one last time with you and your families makes me extremely proud.

-By Wolf Starr, Contributor

The Chilly Open Lives Up to its Claim as the “Best Winter Party in Town”

The Debits adorn the stage at the Chilly Open

An underrated Columbus event that has been rapidly climbing my rankings of events and festivals around town – even before having kids – is the Chilly Open. Put on by the Westerville Sunrise Rotary Club, the Chilly Open has taken place annually (the first Saturday in February to be exact) for 20 years. In those 20 years, the event has raised $2.5 million for local charities. The Rotary Club organizes and runs everything the day of, along with the help of 300 volunteers. Because of this support, all proceeds go to charity. Kroger and Papa John’s are the title sponsors, with an impressive list of local businesses and individuals chipping in too.

On paper, this event already has a lot going for it in my book. One, it’s in February, which is typically dreary, cold and lacking for things to do. Two, the Chilly Open lives at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, so it’s an excuse to come out to the Zoo in winter. All of the pavilions at the Water’s Edge Events Park are consumed by the Chilly Open. Conjoining them is a large heated tent where the main stage is located.

I’ll start with why this event is awesome for adults. Tickets are $45, which is an admittedly steep ticket price, especially if you and your wife go. But that ticket gets you four drinks (wine or Miller Lite draft). It also gets you unlimited food from 30 incredible food vendors that include local favorites Polaris Grill, Skyline Chili, Watershed Distillery, Bon Vie Bistro, Winking Lizard, Old Bag of Nails, City Barbecue, Cameron Mitchell, 101 Beer Kitchen, Asterisk Supper Club, and Koble to name a few. Each offers small plates and samples of their finest dishes and recipes.

That aforementioned stage houses local band The Debits for the majority of the five-hour day (noon-5 p.m.). They have a funny story in how they came together, but they rock out the Chilly Open every year. I was completely hooked well before their third John Mellencamp cover for the day. They are a fun group and completely interactive with the crowd, promoting dancing and fun with women, children and over-served gentlemen.

Bonus for Dom Tiberi, everyone’s favorite local sportscaster, serving as the emcee.

This is all great stuff, but what about the kids?

Superheroes at the Children's Open

Included in the price of admission is access to the Children’s Open in a separate heated, indoor facility. It’s a little kid’s fantasyland that includes face painting, animal visits, bounce houses, inflatable mazes, Wii games, food and drinks, laser tag, and seemingly endless activities. Kudos to the volunteers in costume adding to the thrill (honestly I think I was more psyched than any of the kids).

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We started our day there to let my daughter blow off some steam before transitioning to the Chilly Open. She’s only two, but kids 5-12 can be left without their parents. It’s wildly secure with matching wristbands for kids and their parents and a full staff of volunteers supervising all activities.

To cap the day, my daughter got a ride on the conveniently adjacent carousel for giving her mom and dad two solid hours at the Chilly Open.

 

Places We Love: Rockmill Brewery

CBUS Dads blogger Billy Fischer took his family to Rockmill Brewery.

Fresh brewed beer, beautiful scenery, a crackling fireplace, and a renovated barn that immediately makes you think “can I please live here.” That’s the best way
to sum up the incredible gem that is
Rockmill Brewery.

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Rockmill Brewery is a 30 minute drive from Downtown Columbus and a great place to take the family. I took the trip with my family last weekend. Initially, I wasn’t so sure about lugging the kids to a brewery in the country. I’m glad that thought didn’t stop us from going, because it was great.

After digging through the online reviews, I learned a few key things that helped make our trip enjoyable:

  • Rockmill Brewery doesn’t serve food, so make sure you pack a meal, some good snacks and drinks for the kids. If you swing by Katzinger’s Deli and tell them y
    ou’re going to Rockmill, they’ll put together a cheese plate with beer cheese pairings.
  • There’s plenty of room to run around and play. Bring a football, soccer ball, ball and glove, etc.
  • If you prefer to just relax, bring a blanket and chill on the huge green space.
  • There are a few places to explore, take a small hike (perfect for the little ones) and just generally enjoy the beautiful property. Wear appropriate footwear. We failed on this one and my daughter Charlee pretty much trashed her Nike’s.
  • Rockmill Brewery is dog friendly. So, we took our dog!

The tasting room is an old barn that was turned into a home in the 70’s. There’s a bar, 2 large TV’s, multiple fireplaces and endless rooms with comfy seating to grab a spot and hang out. If sports bars aren’t your style, this would be an amazing place to watch a game. I’d recommend waiting for the first game day snowfall and heading to Rockmill Brewery (no kids this time).

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Oh yeah, what about the beer?!

You can learn more about the Rockmill brews here. I sampled the Saison, Dubbel, Rugged Expanse and the Super Saison. Each beer was extremely unique, not your typical craft beer selection. I loved the Dubbel. An amazing dark beer with a maraschino cherry taste.

If you have the chance, take a trip to Rockmill Brewery. We had a blast!

Cheers!  

 

By Billy Fischer, Contributor