More than 25,000 visitors to downtown Kent are expected Saturday for a full day of live entertainment, food, family friendly activities, arts and crafts and more at the Kent Heritage Festival.
Those attending may see new sights as Kent's downtown landscape continues to change.
"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. She noted that much of the new development, including the headquarters of Davey Resource Group, Ametek Inc., Kent State University's Hotel and Conference Center and PARTA's Kent Central Gateway parking facility were merely dust, barrels and a few steel beams last year.
The Heritage Festival, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday in downtown Kent, takes place this year as connecting of the city and university nears competition 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, dance and other performers can be experienced throughout the day at three stages located on Main Street, North Water Street and East Erie Street.
The Heritage Festival Car Show returns again with cars lining 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. beginning at the Main Street Bridge and concluding at Tannery Park.
The 10th Annual Ametek Tree City begins at 7 p.m. from Dix Stadium on Summit Street. The event benefits the United Way of Portage County.
A few hundred extra parking spaces are also available this year. PARTA's Kent Central Gateway, located on South DePeyster at East Erie Street, offers more than 300 spots, and the lot on Locke Lane behind Davey Resource Group will be open for parking as well. KSU has also made the Rockwell Hall (Fashion Museum) parking lot open to the public.