White men playing in a band on a stage

Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band performing at the 2011 Hot Times Festival.  The Zydeco Legend and perennial Hot Times favorite returns to the Main Street Stage on Saturday September 8.  Photo by Bryan Curtis

With the passage of Labor Day comes fall, football, pumpkin patches and Hot Times. The 42nd Annual Community Festival on the Near East Side returns to the Columbus Health Department Grounds from September 7 through 9.

The annual community festival will feature food vendors, a flea market and entertainment on two stages, the Parsons Stage and the Main Stage. On Saturday and Sunday, afternoon there will be performers on the Swing Patio, on the front patio of the Health Department.

The Hot Times Community Festival started as a Flea Market by the Olde Towne East Neighborhood Association (OTENA) in the late 1970s. The festival is now, according to the Arts Foundation of Olde Towne (AFOOT) Website, an “all-volunteer driven community and arts festival.”

Returning as the Saturday headliner on the Main Stage is New Orleans Zydeco legend, accordionist and singer C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. The band has headlined at Hot Times several times in the past, most recently in 2016. According to the Hot Times Website, Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band “will have young and old up on their feet and jumping in unison.” In his three-plus decades with the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Chenier has won rave reviews nationally for his unique style of Zydeco music.

Among the highlights of the weekend-long festival that makes it so unique is the Columbus Children’s Parade. The parade, organized by Central Community House and their youth arts group, TRANSIT ARTS, takes place on September 8 at 11:30 A.M., stepping off from the corner of Bryden Road and Wilson Avenue, heading west on Bryden Road to the Festival. 

Before and after the Children’s Parade on Saturday, there are arts activities for the youth as part of the celebration. Before the parade, children and parade participants will line up at English Park around 10 A.M. for the parade.  Following the parade, at the festival, there are arts activities led by community volunteers and artists.

The festival kicks off on September 7 with the Community Opening Drum Circle, led by Community Elder Drummer Wahru Cleveland, at the Parsons Avenue Stage. That evening is also the Comfest Volunteer Appreciation Party, which is an opportunity for people who volunteered at this year’s Comfest to celebrate and to take part in the Comfest Volunteer Photo, which will take place promptly at 7 P.M. at the Porch of the Health Department.

Other acts scheduled for Hot Times include Willie Phoenix and The Soul Underground, The New Legga-C Show Band, The Glen Echo Saxophone Quartet, The Flex Crew, Transit Arts, Sean Carney & The Joint Rockers, Is Said & The Advance Party. The Poetry Slam with Is Said, and the Jazz Poetry Ensemble are both on Sunday afternoon. 

The festival is also home to the largest gathering of art cars, as there are several art cars on the lawn of the Columbus Health Department during the weekend of the festival.

The hours for the Festival are 5 to 11 P.M. on Friday September 7, Noon to 10:30 P.M. on Saturday September 8, and 11 A.M. to 8 P.M. on Sunday September 9. For more information on the Festival, including performance times and the 2018 Hot Times Program, go to

The Columbus Children's Parade marching down Bryden Road. This year's Columbus Children's Parade is September 8, stepping off from Bryden Road and Wilson Avenue, heading west

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