If you’ve never attended the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival (CBJF) in Gahanna, Ohio, THIS is year to make it happen! This weekend (June 20-22) marks the 16th Annual CBJF and is expected to draw thousands of festival fans, foodies, families and, YES, blues and jazz fans … rain or shine. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Creekside Park (with its meandering trails and paddleboats floating down the Big Walnut Creek), the Festival is beloved by many for its manageable size, idyllic setting and outstanding musical line-up. (Did we mention the great location just east of Columbus, off the I-270 outer belt?)
This year’s event will feature 52 bands, 90 hours of music, 26 food + 32 retail vendors, five stages and three days of family fun. Here are a few Insider Tips to help you navigate the event with ease …
1) Cheap fun. Festival wristbands are just $5/ per person per day. Children under 12 and members of the military (with immediate family) are free. To save a little money on admission, pick up a $1 discount coupon at AAA’s Gahanna office (5073 N Hamilton Rd, Columbus, OH 43230) or come on Sunday (between 12-1:30 pm) for FREE admission when you bring a nonperishable food item to donate to Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
2) Nonstop Music. CBJF offers five stages, all with great musical line-ups! Devoted Jazz fan? Hardcore blues buff? Lean toward a bluegrass vibe? We got that. Visit CreeksideBluesandJazz.com to check out the full schedule and chart your “must see” list. Many great bands play at the same time on the different stages, so be sure to plan ahead so you don’t miss your favs.
3) Get there early. The festival runs from 5-11 pm Friday, 11 am-11 pm Saturday and 12-6 pm Sunday. And the activity heats up throughout the day. Is there a specific band you are coming to see? It’s best to arrive early to find a seat. (You can also bring your own lawn chairs, but no coolers. No pets either—Fido will have to listen to his/her jazz/blues at home. Sorry.)
4) Parking & Shuttles. Let’s face it, parking can be an issue at ANY festival. We’ve tried to ease the hassle by providing four park-and-ride FREE shuttle locations throughout the Gahanna area. These are located at Giant Eagle (1250 N. Hamilton Rd); Gahanna Lincoln High School (140 S. Hamilton Rd.); 101 S. Stygler Rd. (at the corner of Rt. 62 and Stygler Rd. across from City Barbeque) and at *Clark Hall (300 Granville St.—behind Panera).
*Handicap accessible complimentary shuttles are located at the Clark Hall lot. Additionally, the Creekside Parking Garage (located at the corner of Mill and North Streets) will be open and will offer parking adjacent to the Festival for $5 per car. NOTE: Admission to the Festival will be charged at the entrance to the garage.
5) Family Friendly Fun. This year, the number of children’s activities at the Donatos Family Fun Zone has DOUBLED! This area, located at Veterans Memorial Park (on the south side of SR 62/Granville St as you enter Gahanna from I-270). Families can enjoy FREE crafts and activities by Kya’s Crusade, Ohio Origami and Piano Lessons in Your Home; experiment with musical instruments, visit a petting zoo and much more. Go HERE for a full schedule of kid friendly fun. In addition, visitors can buy tickets ($1 each) or wristbands ($15-18) to ride a variety of amusement rides.
6) Hungry? Good! CBJF is a culinary paradise. Here you can find a variety of food vendors offering something for every taste. How about Bourbon chicken, BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, Irish nachos, mac & cheese, French fries, donut/bacon cheeseburgers, chicken teriyaki, fried rice, deep fried veggies, funnel cakes, fudge puppies, gyros, pizza, Greek salad, wings, hot dogs, Bahama Mamas, cream puffs, ice cream, cookies, caramel corn, kettle corn, lemonade, beer, pop, cotton candy, wine, snow cones, rootbeer, chips, red potatoes, gourmet apples, egg rolls, chicken fingers or fried bologna? In addition to the food vendors, there are at least a dozen restaurants located in or near the festival footprint, that offer a little A/C and great dining experience.
7) Boutique Shopping. CBJF is like a mini-outdoor market with artisan treasures, surrounded by a great live soundtrack. Shop for jewelry, handbags, clothing, skin care products, tie-dye clothing, scarves, Chinese fans, flowers, planters, caricatures, wooden boxes, sunglasses and more. Additionally, the Creekside District offers great retail vendors like Honey Grove Botanicals (where you can find some hand-crafted gifts to take home).
8) Become a #2014CBJF SuperFan. Use the official hashtag (#2014CBJF) and join the conversation via Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram while at the Festival. We’ll be on the lookout for ya’ll (both virtually and in person) to share your feedback, photos and just maybe you’ll snag some of our cool swag just for helping carry the CBJF flag!
~Post by Mary Szymkowiak, Communications & Tourism Manager, Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau