Each Labor Day weekend, the small city of Milan -- a village located in Huron and Ontario counties turns into an important cultural center of Ohio. The reason for this is Milan Melon Festival, held annually in the Village Square and attracting huge crowds of spectators, who look for family fun. Just imagine how the village -- with a total population of less than 1,500 -- turns into meeting place for over 100,000 visitors during the Labor Day weekend.
For three days, the Milan Melon Festival offers a wide variety of activities for both children and adults. The Saturday show features Big Wheelie Race, Antique Car Show, Band Concert, Queen's Contest and Pandora Gallery of Arts and Crafts. Sunday events include Two Hour Grand Parade, Pandora's Gallery of Arts and Crafts, Melon Eating Contest, Milan Fireman's Chicken Barbeque and a variety of band sounds. Monday activities are targeted at children, including Kiddies Pedal Tractor Pull and Kid's Special.
In addition to traditional folk music and various contests, visitors have the possibility to participate in games of skill for such prizes as plush Harry Potter dolls. Among the most popular attractions is the Classic Car Show, displaying classic cars of northern Ohio. The highlight of the festival is melon in all forms and sizes. The special offers include muskmelon melon, watermelon wedges, melon candles and watermelon sherbet. A number of country recipes are represented with homemade fries, sweet corn, candied apples, snow cones, breaded pickles and cotton candy.
The admission to the festival is free. The 48th Milan Melon Festival is scheduled for September 2-4, 2006. As always, it will offer free three-day entertainment for the whole family comprised of games, crafts, carnival rides and food. As ever it will be a holiday, based entirely around melons. Each year Milan Melon Festival provides local school, church and service organizations with the possibility to raise much of their operating funds for the coming year. The event is sometimes confused with the Italian festival in the USA. However it has no connection to Italy.
It should be mentioned though, that Milan is famous not only due to the Milan Melon Festival. First of all, it is the birthplace of the prominent inventor Thomas Edison. There exists a small museum, dedicated to his life and works. In the second half of XVIII century, Milan had a reputation of a significant inland port and center of ship building. Shortly after the damage from the big flood of 1869, the Milan Canal was abandoned. Because of a great number of bridges over the river, Milan is no longer reached by vessels. However it is possible to follow the canal route across recreational trail of a park district.
Favorite sports include canoeing, camping and hiking. There are also museums with glass collections, working antiques and inventions.
Milan has a joint school system with Ohio's Berlin Heights with the school district known as the Berlin-Milan Local Schools and the school team is the Edison Chargers. Because of its rural and agricultural orientation, many residents of Milan commute to large cities for employment. As of 2000 the village's population totaled 1,445.