After seven years of successful growth, West Chester Township’s signature summertime festival at the Square at Union Centre has been reconfigured by the Union Centre Merchants Association and pushed back to the fall.
Like the summer version, this new fall festival will feature free admission and numerous bands.
Evolving itself from the Blast, the Merchants Association has decided to do away with amusement rides and games, make the event a day shorter and feature a smaller and more localized group of food vendors.
“We decided that we were going to downscale it this year … and then start back up with the three-day event next year,” Union Centre Boulevard Merchants Association President Pam Shrout said.
“We just felt that we had to put something out because so many people look forward to this event every year. We decided to make it smaller and will try to use a learning curve to grow it next year.”
The Merchants Association’s vice president, Michael Klaber, said that the association wants to create a “new foundation to build upon” and learn from last year’s mistakes.
Hague Atkinson, who was hired to promote last year’s event, estimated that 35,000 people would attend the Blast and within three years the event “could grow into one of the largest festivals in the state of Ohio.”
“I think the mindset there was that he wanted to make it as big as possible, which really wasn’t what we wanted in the first place,” said Klaber, who expects this year’s event to draw somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 people. “We wanted to be featuring our local area, so I think there might have been a little bit of a disconnect there.”
This year’s event will feature 10-to-12 local food vendors, which will include Firehouse Subs, Bravo!, Asiatique Bistro and Lounge, Stone Creek Dining Company, Qdoba Mexican Grill and Raymond’s Pizza.
Performing at this year’s festival will be the Rumpke Mountain Boys (5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday) and DV8 (8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday), Anada (noon to 1 p.m. Saturday), salsa band Tropicoso (1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday), the Swimsuit Models (4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday) and The Beatles tribute band Britbeat (8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday) will take the stage.
Other unique attractions taking place Saturday include a chili cookoff sponsored by Firehouse Subs (4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) between the fire houses in West Chester and Liberty townships, a wing-eating contest (7 p.m. to 8 p.m.) sponsored by Willie’s Sports Café, art booths (11 a.m. until dark) and a free car show cruise-in (Noon to 5 p.m.).
Festival-goers are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate to Reach Out Lakota. Parking will be offered for $5 around the Square at Union Centre, with proceeds benefiting the Lakota After-Prom.
The festival will take place from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and from noon to midnight Saturday. Alcohol will not be served after 11 p.m. on both nights.