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Kelleys Island homecoming celebration

John Benson • May 12, 2015 at 6:28 PM

Want to go?

• WHAT: Kelleys Island Homecoming

• WHEN: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 20

• WHERE: Kelleys Island

• COST: Free

• INFO: 419-746-2432

In the past few years there’s a certain moment during the Kelleys Island Homecoming where Kelleys Island Landowners Association President Jim Zeller knows the annual summer get together is a success.

“I really enjoy watching people having fun,” said Norwalk native Zeller, who moved to the Island four years ago. “I often sit back in a corner and it makes me feel good seeing everybody smiling and talking and laughing. That doesn’t happen too much anymore.”

In a nutshell that’s exactly what Zeller and guests attending the 37th Homecoming festival Aug. 20 on Kelleys Island should look forward to in 2011. With a theme of “Feeling Groovy,” where families are encouraged to dress up in bell bottoms and love beads, the party in a sense is the popular Lake Erie Island’s own version of Woodstock with peace and love.

“It’s an event for a lot of people who own property on Kelleys Island that don’t spend a lot of time here,” Zeller said. “They rent out their home and live elsewhere and are only here for vacations. So this is when everybody tries to be here to rekindle friendships and catch up on families and that sort of thing.”  

The Kelleys Island Landowners fundraiser includes plenty of food options and scheduled events, including a 50/50 drawing and silent auction. Festivities start late morning with a parade — which is open to anyone and includes decorated golf carts, classic cars, trucks, lawnmowers, tractors, bikes and people — along the south shore that ends at the picnic pavilion on Addison Street. Trophies are awarded for the top three theme-related entries based on originality and imagination.

The parade also boasts plenty of pets and owners competing in various categories: Most Talented, Best Costume and Pet that Looks the Most like its Owner. There are also plenty of children’s games and such, including a cake-eating contest, a round of marshmallow golf and a bounce castle.  

"We’ll have the pig roast right off the bat and some entertainment,” Zeller said. “Frank and Dean are local musicians from Cleveland that are popular on Kelleys Island. They are Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin impersonators. We’ll also have Mary Spayd McCormick, who has a connection to the island. She’s classic rock to modern rock. And then our last event is the North Coast Band. They’re a group of musicians, mostly retirees, that play big band songs, Sousa marches and patriotic songs.”


He added, “I think the older crowd, the people who are pretty gray-haired, enjoy the North Coast Band, while the families enjoy the bounce castle and kids games and the middle aged folk like the beer and food. So it’s hard to say. We try to cover all age groups.”


Just to be clear about what the Kelleys Island Homecoming is not about, Zeller said, “We don’t want it to be a drunken brawl. We want it to be an event families enjoy going to.”


The 37th Homecoming festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 20 on Kelleys Island. For more information, call 419-746-2432.

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