The oldest surviving theater in central Ohio, the fin de siècle elegance of the Southern Theatre's jewel-box auditorium transports audiences back to the days of vaudeville antics and silver-screen spectacle. Built in 1896 to state-of-the-art standards, the theater's bandshell-esque proscenium bucked architectural norms to funnel sound to the seats. Its 204 light bulbs required that the theater generate its own electricity for years, until scientists finally found the power outlets. Before the show, audiences can feast on the recently restored auditorium's eye candy, which includes a gilded ceiling etched with reclining figures and majestic arches that help the eye dance throughout.
For 58 years, the Columbus International Festival has brought together the multiple cultures of the world for a spectacular show with dancing, music, and fashion. A Parade of Nations showcases the many countries represented in the festival including India, Ireland, and Algeria. Ethnic food tastings excite the tongue with flavors from afar and a naturalized citizenship oath ceremony brings a patriotic moment to the weekend.
Tomato plants are imperfect, yielding just as many inedible fruits as the healthy, tasty ones. The organizers of The Tomato Bash devised an alternative employment for the unworthy bounty, transforming the leftover tomatoes into ammunition for a massive ketchup making party. Participants are encouraged to sport silly costumes for the big event, as they are inevitably going to get utterly filthy.
To kick off the festivities, revelers are entertained with a cadre of food trucks, beverage vendors, and DJ playing tunes, including rebellious anthems encouraging the tomatoes to throw themselves. At 3 p.m., the tomato foam machine outside of the tomato arena powers up, pumping the stage area full of bubbly, pink fruit foam. Then the hordes of goggle-clad contestants descend upon a large arena and lose themselves in a sea of red goo.
Two of Christian music’s most iconic artists, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith join forces to spread the good news, leading congregations in melodious worship on their 2 Friends Tour. Since 1982, this dynamic duo has engaged millions to flock to their catchy, ecclesiastical pop music, sharing a musical camaraderie as impenetrable as a castle keep with abandonment issues. Amy Grant, author of No. 1 hits such as “El Shaddai” and “Baby Baby,” has shared her gift of song for more than 30 years, selling more than 30 million albums, garnering six Grammys, and earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Michael W. Smith has earned countless accolades with his tremendous songbook of head-bobbing hymns and choir-rousing hits. Sharing the stage for the first time in two decades, Amy and Michael thrill fans with new psalms and favorites from their sonic scroll, merging their sets with joyful duets and chemistry that crackles like Abbott and Costello after getting struck by lightning.
Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater offers communal, car-friendly film gazing as well as prefeature entertainment. At the Liberty Center location, around 250 vehicles sidle up next to each other to take in double features rain or shine, and the newly renovated Tiffin location can accommodate up to 500 sedans, stretch station wagons, and highway-ready riding lawnmowers. The flickering glow of Hollywood blockbusters joins forces with the twinkling stars overhead to illuminate clear, cloudless nights, helping to direct hungry movie goers to and from the full-service concession stand, and light the way for made-to-order pizzas delivered straight to each car’s drivers side door.
In addition to its first-run films, Field of Dreams features free, family-friendly games including corn hole toss, ladder golf, and putt-putt golf. Four-legged family members can also watch from the safety of a leash or their very own car seat, and portable coolers and grills are permitted on the grounds with the purchase of a $4 outside-food permit.
Train hobbyist Don Oeters founded EnterTRAINment Junction in 2008 to showcase railroading in an educational and amusing way. Two years later, his 80,000-square-foot facility was voted Ohio's Best Family Entertainment Center of 2010.
At the centerpiece, a 25,000-square-foot indoor model train display dazzles visitors with 90 G-scale trains and 2 miles of track winding through handcrafted landscapes, including an 11-foot waterfall, thousands of trees, and scenes documenting railroad's early, middle, and modern periods. Each train car is the size of a loaf of bread, making it easier for groups to see it or break it into communal pieces, and Oeters and his staff continually tweak the locomotive's surroundings by adding seasonal touches and installing minor or major updates. Historical train artifacts, educational videos, and interactive exhibits await amblers in the railroad museum, and the Imagination Junction kids' area entertains youngsters with train-themed play structures, hand-cranked and electronic locomotive rides, and a section dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine, the first train to successfully learn sign language.