SPRINGFIELD TWP. It was a record-breaking year for the popular Rock the Docks (RTD) festival held on the north shore of Springfield Lake from June 27-30.
The docks rocked to the tunes from the Hit Men, Xtra Crispy, Hudson Run, Skykar Juan Hip Hop and the brave festival goers that gave Karaoke a try.
“It's nearly impossible to estimate the number of people who attend our festival, but we do know that despite a couple of thunderstorms, it was a record-setting weekend for Rock the Docks this year," said Rock the Docks committee member Jerry Michael.
Ticket sales were at an all-time high and Gus Fakelis of John's Gyro King, which has been coordinating the food vendors for a number of years, said that it was the best year any of them have ever seen.
Michael said he thinks one of the misconceptions about the festival is that it's run by Springfield Township.
“Granted, they do provide a tremendous amount of support and it wouldn't be nearly as spectacular without their permission to use their beautiful lakefront property, but we are actually an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that was formed in 2007," he said.
The focus for the festival is to provide an exceptional festival experience for the communities of Springfield and Lakemore. However, it has found that the festival is now reaching far beyond the township and village borders.
Committee members have changed over the years, but the current group has been working together for several years now and have built a pretty great formula for getting things done.
“We start meeting in February to make sure everything is in place by show time,” Michael said.
The members are all community residents. They include Cindy Michael who is the event coordinator and also handles the business vendor sign-ups, Penny Brown is the activities coordinator; Laurie Hysell keeps track of all of the volunteer needs and makes sure the event is staffed; Laurie Greer is in charge of sponsorships and T-shirts; Emery Pittman handles security and parking; and Sharon Harms is the treasurer. Tom Letzler handles the golf carts and radios for the weekend; and Ed Brown and Michael manage the ride company relationship, the event set-up and can usually be found driving the pontoon boats during the festival.
Each year, the festival entertainment and events grow and this year kids and adults alike enjoyed Magic by Kel, a Tea Party with Alice and Friends, pontoon boat rides, Springfield Cheer performance, Outback Rays Animal show, petting zoo, the Home Depot Kid’s Workshop, dunk tank, Fire and Ice Science Show and so much more. A variety of local organizations raise funds by manning the dunk tank. The tank is always busy with those wanting to throw the ball and drop the person sitting on the platform into the water. For three-year-old Isabelle Cummings, of Cuyahoga Falls, it was a must to drop Justin Knox representing the Lakemore Lion’s Club into the water. She threw three balls that were on track but, just not quite high enough to hit the magic button. It didn’t stop her, she just ran up and got a lift to hit the button, not once, but twice as Knox’s mom encouraged her to do it a second time.
For some, eating wings is something they do on a weekend evening but at RTD the challenge to see who can eat the most wings is a popular event each year. The wing eating contest sponsored by Wing Warehouse and this year’s winner was Drew McHenry.
Many of the vendors return year after year including Makin Faces, Akron Henna Art, T's-N-Things and Let's Face it Caricatures. This year they were able to add a few new faces with KellBran Candies, Fat T's Cookies and Light it Up. Michael said it just wouldn't be Rock the Docks without a visit from Party People, LLC “who provided us with characters for our Friday night princess tea party and Polynesian visitors on Sunday.”
Sponsors for this year's event included Lababidi Group, Wayside Furniture, First Student, Iron Grill, Uncle Titos and Lembos.
First Student provide shuttle service from parking areas located at Lakemore Plaza and Gala Commons to the festival.
Although the committee organizes the event it would not be possible without the volunteers and support services that do so much. Support is provided by the Police Department, Fire Department, road and park crews and other township employees that help with this community festival. Volunteer jobs in many areas are always available for those wanting to get involved.
“Know the plans are already in the works for next year and the festival will be June 25 to 28, 2020," Michael said.