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Nelson Ledges Quarry Park offers unmatched camping venue for fests

May 7, 2010
By ERIC AYRES, Times Leader News Editor

GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio - Nestled in a wooded patch of Northeast Ohio just outside the metro suburbs lies one of the most beloved music festival venues in Ohio and probably one of the most popular festival sites in the region.

Nelson Ledges Quarry Park is a festival goer's dream. Set around a lake at the a that was once an old rock quarry, the park features swimming during the warm weather months and camping in a sprawling wooded campground. But with warm weather also comes weekend music festivals, and Nelson Ledges Quarry Park has continued to bring an onslaught of power-packed fests on select weekends that begin in the spring and continue through October.

Two festivals have already kicked off the 2010 season with a bang, with an early bird gathering late last month followed by the annual Blossom Blast, which featured two nights of Ohio's no. 1 jam band, ekoostik hookah.

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NELSON LEDGES Quarry Park in Northeast Ohio offers camping, swimming and an array of weekend music festivals during the spring, summer and fall months.

Festivals on tap for the season offer something for everyone's musical taste. From jam band rock to reggae, electronic dance raves, and classic rock and Grateful Dead tributes, NLQP plays host to a variety of local, regional and national acts.

Once a lifeguard at the site's lake many years ago, Evan Kelley now operates the park, coordinates the festivals and often serves as master of ceremonies for the weekend festivities.

One of the most family-friendly music festival venues around, NLQP also has a kids play area, quiet camping areas and a sandy beach on the lake that continues to a sandy dance area in front of the main stage.

Fact Box

Some of the events scheduled so far this season at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park include:

- Mayflowers/ Springdance, May 21-23, featuring Telepath, Papadosio, Archnemisis, The Werks, EP3, The Lorax Tree, DJ Joe Mama, Drop Electric and more.

- Jonesfest, May 28-31, Memorial Day weekend, featuring Jones for Revival and special guests.

- Sublime Summer Starter, June 4-6, featuring the nation's premier Sublime cover band Badfish, with Scotty Don't, Dave Matthews no. 1 tribute band Trippin Billies, Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band, One Under, Critt's JukeJoint and more.

- Floyd/Zeppelin Classic Fest, June 11-13, featuring laser shows with the Pink Floyd tribute band Several Species, Led Zeppelin experience with New York City's Kashmir, Beattles tribute by Brittbeat, Rush tribute Limelight, Jimi Hendrix tribute with Charlie Christopherson and Midnight Lightning, Janis Joplin tribute by Ball and Chain, Moody Blues tribute by Time Traveler, Yes tribute Going for the One, Grateful Dead tribute by JiMiller Band, Niel Young tribute with Ragged Glory, and more.

- Gratefulfest, July 1-5, 11th annual event featuring three nights with Dark Star Orchestra and the music of the Grateful Dead, plus Keller Williams solo and with Keller & the Keels do Deadgrass, New Riders of the Purple Sage, bluegrass with Peter Rowan, Jerry Garcia Band, Emmitt-Nershi Band, Moonalice, Crazy Engine, DJ Harry, Isto, Donna Jean Band, David Gans, Boombox, The Recipe, the Spikedrivers, Katz & Jammers and many more, plus fireworks, burning man, clowns, fire performers and more.

- Summer Hookah Weekend, July 23-25, 14th annual event with two nights of ekoostik hookah, with Cornmeal, Tea Leaf Green, Zach Deputy, Juggling Suns and more.

- Waterfest, July 31-Aug. 1, featuring the Waterband and more.

- Shamy Bash, Aug. 5-8, moving from Frontier Ranch to NLQP for the first time, featuring The Spikedrivers, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, One Under, Boogie Matrix Mechanism, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, Mike Perkins, The Werks and more, with Headronics featuring Freekbass, DJ Logic and Steve Molitz of Particle.

- Midwest Reggae Fest, Aut. 13-15, one of the biggest reggae festivals in the world with Packy Malley bringing Third World, Michael Rose, Luciano, Pato Banton, Dread Zeppelin, Toph-1, Flex Crew and more.

- Lazy Daisy Festival, Aug. 21-22, hosted by Jim Miller and the JiMiller Band.

- Summerdance III, Aug. 27-29, with two nights of Lotus, EOTO, Papadosio, Garganta, Alex B from Pnuma Trio, Sonic Spank, Telepath, Jeff Bujak and more.

Regardless of the size of the festival or the bands on the lineup, the park's picturesque camping in the woods, lifeguard-patrolled swimming areas and fun, easy-going atmosphere are enough to draw patrons from afar.

In addition to the array of musical acts on the bill at each festival, other attractions are also included during the events. Fire spinning troupe the Ohio Burn Unit is often on hand to entertain crowds on the beach at night following many of the shows. There are also comedians, skydivers, entertainment for children, a springtime "polar bear" jump into the lake, and other activities thrown in the mix.

During the big Fourth of July celebration, there are fireworks and performances by stunt man "Burning Ted," who in 2005 at the park broke a world record for being on fire.

NLQP's annual season-closing Halloween celebration Gory at the Quarry brings music, pumpkin decorating and costume contests, haunted campsites and more spooktacular fun in the holiday spirit.

Additional festivals, including Fall Badfish, Deadfall and Gory at the Quarry, will be announced in the near future. For more information on shows and events at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, visit

Ayres can be reached at



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