What's so special about Portage County? A group of residents who studied that question for months will show you, sponsoring a Portage County Celebration Week in August.

The Aug. 24-30 celebration will start with an "Oscars-style" dinner Aug. 24 at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center in Aurora. Terry Montz, a steering committee member and owner of catering firm Innovative Elegance & Design, said it will include performances by local talent and fine dining.

Awards will be presented for several area "bests," including economic development and community service projects, health initiatives and art/cultural events. Awards also will be awarded for most engaging high school and community hero.

Other events include:

• A Community Volunteer Day coordinated by United Way of Portage County.

• A battle of bands among area high schools at Kent State's Dix Stadium.

•A huge cruise-in car show from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 27 on Route 59 in Ravenna.

• The national college football season kickoff at Kent State University on Aug. 30, which will conclude with a fireworks show.

The week is the product of a months-long project by residents dubbed "Visioning in Portage," to distill what makes Portage special and how can it capitalize on that for the future.

MONTZ SAID, "We're trying to show what we have to offer in Portage County. We want people to say 'wow, I never knew this existed in Portage County.'"

With help from Mongoose Motor Sports in Ravenna, the cruise-in will use parking lots on the east end of town along Main Street. Categories will range from antique cars to vintage sports cars.

Food and dining businesses in the area will have booths out front of their establishments to sell "everything from Italian food to root beer floats; it's all right there," Montz said.

Todd Peetz, a steering committee member and director of the county's regional planning commission, said the celebration week is a way of reaching out to the community and highlighting the positive things happening here.

"The other thing we hope to accomplish is idea sharing and building. What makes an arts and cultural event special? We hope to have four or five great example for people to learn from and build on," he said.

The schedule and details of the week's events is available at www.sites.google.com/a/uwportage.org/celebrate-portage-county/

The group is seeking sponsors. Contact Peetz at the Portage County Regional Planning Commission, 124 N. Prospect St., Ravenna.

Email: msever@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4154

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