Tallmadge -- As the fourth annual Tallmadge Circle Festival and Light Parade draws nearer, event organizers expect it to attract even more people this year.
Mary Cea, executive director of the Tallmadge Chamber of Commerce, estimates 12,000 to 15,000 people will attend the city's trademark festival this year. The event, put on by the Chamber of Commerce and the Tallmadge Community Improvement Corp., starts with the "Circle City Mile" Race a few minutes before the festival kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 17. The parade is set to begin at 9 p.m., or dusk, on East Avenue with a fireworks show on North Avenue to follow. The festival ends at 11 p.m.
The Circle will be closed to traffic from 5 p.m. to midnight, with traffic rerouted around it.
Parking for the festival is available at any business around the Circle, with parking for those with disabilities at the former Bob's Big Boy restaurant at the corner of North Avenue and the Circle.
There is no admission charge for the festival itself.
The creators of the event originally devised it to draw attention to the Circle that's home to the Old Town Hall and the Historic Church -- the city's most recognizable landmarks -- and nearby restaurants, and it has evolved into a festival that's also entertaining for people of all ages.
In the Circle, community organizations will have booths, La Mexicana Cantina & Grill and vendors will sell food, and those interested in adult beverages can enjoy a sit-down beer and wine garden.
Returning this year as the musical entertainment is "Victory Highway," a band that performs tunes from a variety of genres. The group performed at the event in 2011.
Outdoor bands and activities also are planned for some of the restaurants near the Circle, and most businesses in the vicinity will be open during the festival, Cea said.
New for this year's festival is retired Tallmadge High School teacher and drama club adviser Frank Chaff IV's debut theatrical production at the Historical Church. The first show will start at 6 p.m., and the second will be at 7:30 p.m.
The free, hour-long production is a series of vignettes, each of which brings to life a story from the city's past. Because each vignette is 10 minutes long, audience members can come and go as they please without feeling obligated to stay for the entire performance, Cea said.
"We're excited because [Chaff] wrote them all. They're going to be fun for the kids and for everybody," she said.
The Historic Church will be open for viewing from 6 to 8 p.m.
Along West Avenue, children also will find craft tents and "Jungle Bob's" mini petting zoo of sorts that has small, live animals they can touch. Inflatables will provide an outlet for youngsters with extra energy to burn.
"West Avenue will be pretty packed this year ... [The children's activities on that street] will go all the way up to almost Delanie's [Neighborhood Grille]. It's going to be a whole avenue of fun things for the kids," Cea said.
But perhaps the most anticipated activities of the festival are the parade and the fireworks show. During the parade, local businesses, church groups, athletic teams and nonprofit organizations drive their floats, tractor trailers, fire trucks and classic vehicles with electric lights, around the perimeter of the Circle.
"People really love the parade and the fireworks. Last year I heard so many compliments and that's why people are coming back," Cea said. "The extreme that people go to on the parade is unbelievable, with the lights. They go all out."
Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.