Kent -- Over the years, the annual Kent Heritage Festival has established itself as the city's biggest single-day draw, bringing about 25,000 visitors to downtown for a full day of live entertainment, food, family friendly activities, arts and crafts.
While many of Kent's residents and frequent visitors are familiar with the downtown landscape that's still shaping up, the city's sights have vastly changed since last year's Heritage Festival.
"I think people will be pleasantly surprised if for some reason they haven't been here since the last Heritage Festival," said Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, noting that much of the new downtown was merely dust, barrels and a few steel beams last year.
The Heritage Festival on July 6 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. takes place as connecting of the city and university nears completion via the pedestrian friendly KSU Esplanade extension.
More than 100 vendors will pack the streets throughout the day, with festival food carts parking along North Water Street and craft and info booths along South Water and East Erie streets.
Live music, dancing and other performers can be experienced throughout the day at three stages on Main Street, North Water Street and East Erie Street.
The annual car show returns, with cars lining on Franklin Avenue and West Erie Street from the crack of dawn until 4 p.m. The Kent Jaycees will race a plethora of colorful rubber duckies down the Cuyahoga River at 6 p.m.
A few hundred extra parking spaces are available this year. PARTA's Kent Central Gateway on South DePeyster and East Erie streets, offers more than 300 spots, and the lot on Locke Lane behind Davey Resource Group will be open for parking as well.
Wemhoff said those who haven't been to Kent for some time will have much to behold. "I think it's going to blow their socks off when they see what all is down here with all the changes," she said.
Fireworks will conclude the festivities at dusk.
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