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 week, set for Aug. 24 through 30, will start with an "Oscars-style" dinner at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center in Aurora. Terry Montz, a steering committee member and owner of catering firm Innovative Elegance & Design, said the evening will include performances by local talents, fine dining and excitement.
Awards will be presented for several area "bests" including economic development projects, community service projects, health initiatives and art/cultural events. Awards also will be awarded for most engaging high school and a community hero.
Other events include:
a Community Volunteer Day of local community or social service project, coordinated by United Way of Portage County;
A battle of bands among area high schools at Kent State University's Dix Stadium in Kent;
A huge cruise-in car show from 5 to 9 p.m. on S.R. 59 in Ravenna on Aug. 27;
And 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 so 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.'"
The car cruise-in is an example of something special that is growing into an extraordinary event, Montz said.
With help from Mongoose Motor Sports in Ravenna, the cruise-in will now use parking lots on the east end of town along Main Street, from A&W east to Mongoose and Tractor Supply Co. 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 whole community, highlighting the positive things happening across the county.
"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 online at https://sites.google.com/a/uwportage.org/celebrate-portage-county/
The group is still seeking sponsors for the celebration week. Contact Peetz at the Portage County Regional Planning Commission, 124 N. Prospect St., Ravenna.
Nominations for the awards are due by July 7 to the celebration committee, care of the Portage County Regional Planning Commission, 124 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, or to Todd Peetz, head of the planning commission, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details on the awards requirements are available from Peetz.
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or email@example.com
Facebook: Mike Sever, Record-Courier