Akron hosting variety of Gay Games 9 events
GREATER AKRON — Since nearly five years ago, when Northeast Ohio won the bid to host Gay Games 9, presented by the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Akron has been gearing up for a number of sporting and cultural events Aug. 9-16.
Held every four years, the Gay Games first took place more than 30 years ago, according to the Gay Games 9 website, www.gg9cle.com. All athletes are invited to participate regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender identity, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status, states the website.
As many as 9,000 participants from all over the world are expected to take part in the sporting and cultural events, which include sports from badminton to bodybuilding, according to the website.
A Festival Village, located in a newly renovated park known as Mall C located at Lakeside Avenue at West Mall Drive, will provide a center for the fanfare surrounding the games in Cleveland. Many of the sporting competitions will be set in Cleveland, along with opening and closing ceremonies Aug. 9 and 16, respectively, as well as a number of other shows, parties and exhibitions. For more details on those and all Gay Games events, visit the above website.
A major part of the action also will take place in Akron. While the games bring a total of 35 sporting competitions to the area, about one-third of those events will take place in Akron, according to Phil Montgomery, Akron’s deputy director of public service. Akron-Summit County sports are hosted by the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, according to the website.
One unique event taking place in Akron is the Aug. 11 10K race, he said, as runners and spectators will be shuttled to the starting line at Botzum Trailhead via the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR).
Gay Games 9 is expected to have a positive impact on the city and county on two levels, according to both Akron and Summit County officials. Economically, the games will benefit the area as guests spend money on accommodations, dining, retail and entertainment. Also, Gay Games 9 brings an opportunity to grow inclusivity in the community, both city and county officials have noted.
“One of the reasons the Gay Games started was it wasn’t OK in the ’80s to be an ‘out’ athlete,” said Montgomery.
The Gay Games provided a forum for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals to participate in the sports they wanted without experiencing discrimination, he added.
While registration to participate in sporting events closed Aug. 1, attending a competition in the Akron area as a spectator is free for nearly all events. Parking also is generally free.
Surrounding the games is a full slate of community events, many of which also are free.
In Akron, spectators are welcome at the following sporting events, which are free unless otherwise indicated:
- Golf — Events: 18 holes each day
Dates and times: Aug. 11-12, 8 a.m. shotgun start
Location: Firestone Country Club, North and West courses, 452 E. Warner Road in South Akron
- Long distance running — Events: Marathon/half marathon
Dates and times: Aug. 16, 6 a.m. start for both races
Location: Start at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St. in Downtown Akron; finish at Lock 3 Park, 200 S. Main St.
More details: The course makes a loop through the streets of Downtown Akron. A post-race finisher festival will take place at Lock 3 and include food and other vendors and entertainment.
- Martial arts — Events: empty-handed forms, weapons forms, self-defense, free sparring
Dates and times: Aug. 11-12, times to be announced
Location: John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill St. in Downtown Akron
- Rock (sport) climbing — Events: climbing and bouldering
Dates and times: Aug. 11-12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Kendall Cliffs Climbing Gym, 60 Kendall Park Road in Peninsula
- Road racing — Event: 10K
Dates and times: Aug. 11, 7 p.m.
Location: Runners shuttled on the CVSR from Northside Station, 27 Ridge St. in Downtown Akron, to starting line at Botzum Trailhead via train every half hour from 4:30 until last train at 6:30 p.m.; course starts on Riverview Road, heading south to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath; finish line at Mustill Store, 57 W. North St.
More details: No parking is available at the starting line at Botzum Trailhead. Spectator tickets are $5 in advance and $7 onsite to ride the train at 4:45 or 6 p.m. to watch the start of the race at 7 p.m. The train will depart at 7:15 to head back to Northside Station. Spectators will be able to see some of the race on the train ride heading back, according to the CVSR’s website. To purchase spectator tickets, visit www.cvsr.com.
- Rodeo — Events: 13 different events, including bull and steer riding; chute dogging; roping; barrel racing; pole bending; flag racing; steer decorating; wild drag racing; and goat dressing
Dates and times: Aug. 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (dance); Aug. 11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. (awards ceremony)
Location: Summit County Fairgrounds, 229 E. Howe Road in Tallmadge
More details: Tickets are $15 daily and $10 for the dance and can be purchased with cash only at the door. Tickets also can be purchased online at gaygamesrodeo.org/tickets.htm.
- Soccer — Events: competitive and recreational games
Dates and times: Aug. 11-15, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: Copley Road Soccer Complex, 1806 Copley Road
- Softball — Events: A/B, C/D and women’s division
Dates and times: Aug. 11-14, times vary by field
Locations: Firestone Stadium and Pony Field, 1574 Firestone Parkway in Akron; Colonial Salt Field, 400 W. Wilbeth Road in Akron
More details: Firestone Stadium will host food and beer sales and music throughout the tournament. For a full tournament schedule, visit www.gg9cle.com/participate/sports/softball.
- Track and field — Events: 100-meter to 5,000-meter races; hurdles; steeplechase; race walking; relay runs; long, high and triple jumps; pole vault; shot put; hammer, discus and javelin throws; men’s decathlon; women’s heptathlon
Dates and times: Aug. 11-15, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: The University of Akron, Lee R. Jackson Track and Field Complex, 315 S. Union St. in Downtown Akron
More details: For a full schedule of track and field events, visit www.gg9cle.com/participate/sports/track-and-field.
Some other events planned to complement the games in Akron include:
√ Aug. 7-17, Actors’ Summit Theater will stage “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding” in celebration of the Gay Games. Shows are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at Greystone Hall in Downtown Akron, located at 103 S. High St. For tickets, visit www.actorssummit.org or call 330-374-7568.
√ The Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture (CATAC) will present the premiere of New World Performance Laboratory’s production of “Virginia Woolf’s Orlando,” adapted by Sarah Ruhl, Aug. 7-9 and 14-16 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 10 at 2 p.m. in the Balch Street Theatre, 220 S. Balch St. Admission is $15 (two-for-one Aug. 14 and $10 for students or with a Gay Games identification). Reservations can be made by calling 330-867-3299 or online at orlando.brownpapertickets.com.
√ Aug. 9-16, Summit Artspace will be launching Pride in the Moment, an online exhibition in conjunction with the Gay Games. The exhibition will evolve in real-time and grow each day representing this event in Northeast Ohio, according to Summit Artspace officials. The websites, prideinthemomentgg9cle.com and prideinthemomentgg9cle.org, will go live Aug. 10.
√ Aug. 13, the Gay Change Education Conference is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The University of Akron Student Union, providing professional development opportunities through exploring LGBTQ issues in sports and culture with an emphasis on LGBTQ elder, youth, and transgender issues. Registration is $20 and includes the conference, continental breakfast, lunch and hors d’oeuvres. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. For more information and to register, visit www.eventbrite.com and search for the conference by name.
√ Aug. 13, a free Music in the Meadow concert will take place at Howe Meadow in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 4040 Riverview Road in Peninsula, featuring the folk, pop, funk and blues music of The Laura Love Duo, with an opening act from Tylan & Ingrid. Family activities will begin at 5:30 p.m., with music to start at 6:30 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will move to Happy Days Lodge. Call 330-650-4636, ext. 228, after 2 p.m. the day of the concert for up-to-date information.
√ Aug. 13 at 8 p.m., Del Shores will perform at the Highland Theatre, 826 W. Market St., in his show “Del Shores: My Sordid Best!” Shores is the creator of TV series “Sordid Lives” and film “Southern Baptist Sissies,” as well a writer and producer of the TV series “Queer as Folk.” Tickets are $25 or $35 for VIP seating and can be purchased at the Akron Civic Theatre Box Office Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by calling 330-253-2488. On Aug. 14, a brunch with Shores will take place at a private residence in Highland Square from 9 a.m. to noon, for an in-advance requested donation of $50, which can be dropped off at Every Blooming Thing, 1079 W. Exchange St. For details on the brunch, call 330-867-6699. Money raised will go to Akron’s Teen Pride Network.
√ Aug. 14, a free Flair Fest will begin at 11 a.m. on South Main Street in Downtown Akron, with entertainment until 8:45 p.m. on two stages. Stilt walkers and a contact juggler also will provide entertainment. The event also will include a juried art show and food vendors. The Indigo Girls, along with the Anne E. DeChant Trio and Hannah Thomas, will perform at 5:30 p.m. at Lock 3. Reserved tickets are sold out, but $10 general admission tickets will be available at the gate the night of the show.
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