Geneva’s booming wine scene, lush natural scenery, and top tier accommodations make it the perfect location for beginning your next Northeast Ohio vacation. Oenophiles will instantly fall in love with the city’s selection of wineries including Deer’s Leap Winery, Ferranté Winery, Harpersfield Vineyard, South River Vineyard, and more. Don't miss an opportunity to visit Geneva State Park, which features stunning views of Lake Erie and more outdoor activities than one trip can handle.
The Geneva Grape Jamboree has been a go-to experience in Northern Ohio since it began more than five decades ago, and will take place September 23-24, across downtown Geneva. Attendees will encounter one of the region's largest harvest celebrations, and organizers expect around 200,000 attendees. This year’s event will showcase a variety of grape juices, wines, and grape products. In fact, more than 65 food vendors will be on hand serving up a variety of tasty treats. Patrons will have the opportunity to participate in a grape stomping competition (a festival favorite), and the Run for the Grapes 5K will lead participants through the city’s historic streets to support the Geneva Rotary. More than 100 vendors will be selling a variety of artwork and unique handmade trinkets. From wine tasting featuring vintages from favorite local wineries to grape pie eating contests, this grape celebration offers something for everyone. We got the opportunity to interview Dave Johnson, a representative of the event, to learn more about this harvest festival.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
DJ: The Grape Jamboree started 54 years ago in 1964 when a handful of local grape growers and Geneva businessmen decided to hold a festival and farmer’s market to celebrate the grape harvest. In those days, the main grape crop was Concord, used primarily for grape juice. Today, we still have a lot of Concords grown in the area, but we also have an abundance of wine grapes, with approximately 27 wineries in the immediate vicinity. From those humble roots, the Grape Jamboree has become one of the top-five festivals in the State of Ohio.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
DJ: The event attracts all ages. We pay particular attention to making sure the festival stays "family friendly" by policing what all of the vendors have on display or for sale. The only alcohol sold at the event is in our wine tasting building on Saturday.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
DJ: It is all about the "grape"! Every year we try to improve by constantly changing and bringing new things to the Jamboree. The most popular event is the grape stomping, which takes place on both days. You have 30 seconds to stomp the grapes in the bucket, and audience applause judges the five contestants. We have youth and adult categories. Last year we had a Japanese TV host and crew fly in from Tokyo to film and take part in the grape stomping and pie eating.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
DJ: We have a complete schedule listing on our website. The craft show and art show will be open on both days, and we'll have around 125 vendors at the craft area. Our two parades usually last around 75 minutes total, and all the entertainment on the main stage is free for our patrons.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
DJ: This year we have a "Living Statue" roaming the grounds. The Buffalo Bills Drum Line (from Buffalo, NY) will be marching in each parade and putting on two performances each day.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
DJ: There will be 65 food vendors, plus, a couple of churches serving meals.
RAL: What is the overall environment like?
DJ: The event is open-air and on the streets of Downtown Geneva. It's a vibrant and welcoming environment for everyone.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
DJ: There are several hotels, b&bs, and cottages in proximity. For a full listing of local accommodations follow the link.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
DJ: People return year after year, it serves as a reunion for some, and the people in the community look forward to this event all year.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
DJ: Yes, our patrons spend approximately $6 million in the area over the weekend.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
DJ: We give out three scholarships from of our net proceeds, and donate to many community fundraisers.
For more information about the Geneva Grape Jamboree, please visit the event website.