Living along the shores of Lake Erie affords Clevelanders the luxury of enjoying a multitude of summer aquatic activities but if you are looking for an island getaway then head to Kelleys Island (the largest fresh water American island) in Lake Erie on Friday, July 18, Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20 for their annual IslandFest. Island paradise awaits and it is only an hour drive and a short ferry ride away.
A Bit About Kelleys Island Named for brothers Irad and Datus Kelly for their part in cultivating the island's logging, quarrying and winemaking industries, Kelleys Island is located in Lake Erie four miles north of Marblehead, Ohio (on the mainland) and is more than 4 square miles in size.
While the island's permanent population is around 367 people, Kelleys Island is a popular tourist and vacation destination hosting thousands of visitors each summer.
The island offers a wide variety of activities for all ages including bicycling, sea kayaking, boating, hiking and walking, sailing, fishing, SCUBA diving (where Lake Erie shipwrecks can be viewed) and fossil hunting.
IslandFest 2014 With a theme this year of "We Are Family," IslandFest will take place at various venues in the Downtown area and at Memorial Park. The Fest will offers lots of activities for the whole family including a Waterfront Craft Show (all 3 days), games, live entertainment and a parade being held at 11 a.m. on Saturday. And be sure not to miss the giant fireworks display taking place on Saturday evening at dusk.
There will be plenty of food and beverages (including beer) available for purchase.
Hours for IslandFest are 4 p.m. -midnight on Friday, 11 a.m. -midnight on Saturday and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.
While on the island, make sure you check out the Glacial Grooves, the island's biggest historical attraction. Located on the north side of the island, the Glacial grooves are the largest and most accessible remains of glacial grooves in the world.
Formed in a bedrock of solid limestone by a giant ice sheet that covered part of North America approximately 18,000 years ago, visitors can see what remains today -- a 400 foot long, 35 foot wide and 10 foot deep trough. The limestone containing the grooves still holds marine fossils that are estimated to be 350-400 millions years old.
This National Landmark is now protected by fencing but a walkway and stairs give visitors a great view of the grooves.
Visitors wishing to stay overnight or for several days on Kelleys Island have a variety of Bed & Breakfasts, resorts, hotels, condos and cottages to choose from.
Ferry Service to Kelleys Island The Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line located in Marblehead, Ohio is the only daily auto/passenger ferry service with a short 20 minute ride. Weather permitting, the ferries leave every hour with additional service during holiday weekends and peak times. (419-798-9763 or www.kelleysislandferry.com).
Rates for the ferry are $10 for adults (12+), $8.25 for seniors (62+), and $6.25 for children (5-11). Children 4 and under are free. Cost for an automobile is $16 and it is $3 for a bike and $8 for a motorcycle.
The Jet Express in Sandusky, Ohio also offers service to Kelleys Island. Call 800-245-1538 for Jet Express departure times and pricing.
Visitors to Kelleys Island can rent bicycles or golf carts once they arrive on the island.
For more information about IslandFest or about Kelleys Island call 419-746-2360 or get online at www.kelleysislandchamber.com.