Entertainment and Food Lineup Announced for Canton Kickoff Celebration

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, a department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, has announced the food vendors (to date) and entertainment lineup for the all-new Canton Kickoff Celebration happening in downtown Canton this September 10-12, 2015.

The event includes two food areas, each with a distinct look and feel. The first is Taste of the Hall of Fame City, comprised of white tents which will feature small plates available for purchase ($2-$6 each) from a diverse array of area restaurants including Almost Heaven Ice Cream, Baja West Coast Kitchen, Basil, Kabab & Curry, Pancho’s Southwestern Grille, Peace, Love & Little Donuts, Sparta Steak House and Tim’s Tavern. These vendors will be located along Market Avenue North between Second and Third Streets.

The second area is the EMP End Zone Tailgate, which will be a casual football-themed outdoor space. Everyone’s festival favorites like burgers, barbeque, brats, fried Oreos, and even Asian-inspired food truck fare will be available for purchase. The EMP End Zone Tailgate Lot, which is bordered by Cleveland and Court Avenues/Fourth and Fifth Streets, will include the following vendors: Destefano’s LLC, Hide-A-Way Buffalo Grill, Johns Gyro King Concessions, LaDow’s Concessions, Lil John Concessions, Old Carolina Barbecue Company and Smoke the Burger Joint, Snell Concessions, Umami Bites, Jack on the Bone and Island Delights.

The main entertainment stage will be located on Market Avenue North along Market Square, featuring a diverse lineup of local and regional musical acts. A second smaller stage will be located in the EMP Tailgate End Zone lot featuring solo artists and/or deejays.

Market Ave. Stage Lineup:
Thursday, Sept. 10, 7:00 p.m.:  Disco Inferno (1970s hits)
Friday, Sept. 11, 7:00 p.m.: New Wave Nation (1980s rock)
Saturday, Sept. 12, 8:00 p.m.: Chris Higbee (Rock/Country) 

On Saturday night following Higbee’s performance will be a breathtaking fireworks display at 10:00 p.m.

In addition to two distinct food areas, live music, and fireworks, the Canton Kickoff Celebration promises football-themed fun for the whole family, including kids’ activities, themed “selfie” stations, Arts District activities, craft beers/wine, a special appearance from two Gold Jackets/Hall of Famers on Thursday, and the Gold Jacket 5K National Championship on Sunday!

For more information visit:  www.ProFootballHOFEF.com or call Andrea Hartman, event manager, at 330-458-2054.


2015 TimkenSteel Grand Parade Float Award Winners

TimkenSteel Grand Parade Chairman, Joanna James, announced the 2015 float award winners as selected by the following panel of judges: Kevin Krauch, Diebold Incorporated,  Annapolis, Maryland; Maura Shibley, Executive Director, Coach Sam’s Inner Circle Foundation, Cleveland, OH; and Edward Morrison, Dawson Insurance, Akron, OH.

The following is a complete list of the 2015 TimkenSteel Grand Parade float award winners:

GRAND PRIZE – Best overall entry in the parade11866209_10153601205294170_6492748314788871762_n

Scouting… Taking Adventure to New Heights, Sponsored by: Buckeye Council, Boy Scouts of America

BUILDERS’ AWARD – Best professional builder entry

The 12th Man Float, Sponsored by: Akron Auto Auction

OHIO STATE AWARD – Best non-professional builder entry

Freedom Isn’t Free, Sponsored by: 5 Point United Methodist Parish

ENSHRINEES’ AWARD – Most effective use of color harmony

Ohio Lottery, Sponsored by: Ohio Lottery Commission

MAYOR’S AWARD – Best display of animation

Learning is Our Game Plan, Sponsored by: Brown Mackie College

HOF BOARD OF TRUSTEES’ AWARD – Most original concept

Wounded Warrior Project, Sponsored by: Wounded Warrior Project

NFL AWARD – Best use of flowers or natural covering

Louisville Constitution Day Queen & Court, Sponsored by Louisville Chamber of Commerce

JANICE C. MEYER AWARD – Best display of enthusiasm

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Queen & Court, Sponsored by: Malone University

EXCEPTIONAL MERIT AWARD – For exceptional merit

Woodlawn, Sponsored by: Pure Flix Entertainment

EXCEPTIONAL MERIT AWARD – For exceptional merit

Central Catholic State Champion Baseball Team- Division III State Champions, Sponsored by: Gervasi Vineyard

EXCEPTIONAL MERIT AWARD – For exceptional merit

HealthSpot, Sponsored by: HealthSpot

The Grand Parade has been a tradition since 1963 when 40,000 spectators attended the first parade. Since then, it has grown to a crowd of 200,000 lining the 2.2 mile parade route each year and millions more viewing it via television broadcast.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival TimkenSteel Grand Parade is one of the largest in the nation, and the Enshrinement Festival has been voted one of the top 100 attractions in North America by the American Bus Association. The parade typically features approximately 115 entries, including spectacular floats, marching bands, helium balloons, clowns and costume characters, unique specialty units, and the current class of Enshrinees and their presenters.

For more news and a complete schedule of the remaining Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival events, visit the Web site: www.profootballhofef.com.

51 Balloons Set to Fly This Weekend at the Balloon Classic

The 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic/Jackson-Belden Music Fest & Fireworks will be this Friday, July 31, through Sunday, Aug. 2, at the Kent State University at Stark and Stark State College campuses.  
“The Enshrinement Festival’s Balloon Classic, in its 30th year, is highly regarded in the ballooning world as a premier event,” noted Maury Sullivan, long-time event director. “The quality of our event is evident by the dozens of pilots who return to fly Stark County’s skies year after year.” 
Sugardale Pig
Approximate times for scheduled flights, weather permitting, will be Friday at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Sunday at 6:30 a.m. There will be 51 sport, commercial and special shape hot air balloons, including The Pig, SnoBird, Puddy Tat, Tweety Bird, El Fonz, Little Pirate, and 3 Wise Monkeys.
The participating pilots have impressive credentials and hail from 10 different states, including 27 from Ohio. Canton is only one of the many locations participating pilots have seen from a bird’s-eye view. Many of these pilots have flown all over the world, including Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, Soviet Union and Spain.Ballooning activities over the weekend include:

  • Some pilots will compete in a team format, while others will fly “fiesta” in a non-competitive format, with an available prize package of $17,500.
  • Spectators can marvel at the “Night Glow,” sponsored by Fresh Express/Fishers Foods, on Friday at 9:30 p.m. when they illuminate their balloon envelopes while tethered at the launch field.
  • The Balloon Education Area, sponsored by Smucker’s Uncrustables, will provide a special opportunity for adults and children to enter a fully inflated balloon envelope and learn about the envelope, balloon basket and burners.

Balloons_FroelichResidents of Stark County can participate in the ballooning excitement by allowing a balloon to land on their property. To signal pilots for landing, place a white sheet in a 200’ x 200’ grassy area. The landing area must be clear of trees and power lines, as well as allow enough space for the balloon to land. The pilots offer landowners the chance to win a $100 U.S. Savings Bond in appreciation of land use.

Great food and entertainment are also on tap at the Jackson-Belden Music Fest & Fireworks on Friday and Saturday evenings. There will be a variety of food vendors,  playground of inflatables for children, musical concerts, and of course fireworks on Saturday night at 10:00 p.m.
Friday night musical entertainment lineup:
Blues in School – 4:30 p.m.
Hey Monea! – 6:00 p.m. – 6:40 p.m.
Joe Vitale Jr. – 7:10 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Chris Higbee – 8:15 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.
Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers – 9:45 p.m. – 11:15 p.m.
Saturday night musical entertainment lineup:
Tom Frietchen Band – 5:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
Phillip Fox Band – 8:15 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Phillip Fox Band – 10:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic/Jackson-Belden Music Fest & Fireworks event is presented through a cooperative effort between the Canton Regional and Jackson-Belden Chambers of Commerce. For more information, call Andrea Hartman at (330) 458-2054, or visit the Enshrinement Festival Web site at www.profootballhofef.com

Chamber and Hall Announce Key Enshrinement Committee Chairs

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have named the following key committee chairs:  Rose Ann Manzella, Appreciation Party; Casey Weisend, Balloon Classic and Todd Hawke, Jackson-Belden Music Fest & Fireworks; Mark Prosise, NFL/Hall of Fame Game; and Dean Kahler, Food.
Rose Ann Manzella

Manzella is a graduate of Bishop McDonnell High School and St. Joseph College, both in Brooklyn, New York, and spent 20 years as a medical receptionist. She has been a member of the Appreciation Party Committee for 18 years, and this is her second as chairman. Last year, she served as a volunteer for the Hall of Fame Fan Fest at the Cleveland IX Center. A Eucharistic minister at St. Michael’s Catholic Church for 19 years, she is married to husband Dennis.

The Appreciation Party is a non-public event held to show gratitude to the generous sponsors and team of more than 4,500 dedicated community volunteers who provide the resources and support to make the annual Enshrinement Festival such a huge success. Chris Scarpino is serving as committee vice-chair.

Casey WeisendWeisend, owner of Salon Mystique and Salon Suites located in Canton, Ohio, is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School and National Beauty College. This is his first year as Chairman of the Balloon Classic committee. Before becoming Chairman of the Balloon Classic committee, Weisend served as the sub-committee chairman for vendors. He and wife Jennifer are the proud parents of three children.

Weisend will be assisted in the planning and staging of the Balloon Classic by vice chairman Keith Bennett. This year the Balloon Classic and Jackson-Belden Music Fest activities will take place a week later than last year, with the event being held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 31, August 1 and 2.

Todd HawkeThe Music Fest Committee is chaired this year by Todd Hawke, principal at GDK & Company, and also currently serving as a Jackson Township Trustee. He is a graduate of Kenton Ridge High School and Ohio Wesleyan University and has served in various capacities on the Food Fest Committee since 2002.  He is actively involved in the community and serves on the boards of the Jackson-Belden Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio, and American Cancer Society of Stark County.  Todd and wife Tricia have one son and one daughter.

Hawke will be assisted in the planning and staging by vice chairman Carles Moore, and there will be a wide variety of food and beverages, accompanied by a stronger emphasis on music at the event, thus the name change from Food Fest to Music Fest. As always, there will be a Balloon Glow on Friday night and a spectacular fireworks show to conclude Saturday’s activities.

Mark ProsiseProsise is a graduate of Jackson High School, Bowling Green State University, and Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He has served on the Game committee since 1999, and this is his fifth consecutive year as chairman. An active Hall of Fame volunteer for the past 22 years, he has also served on the Autograph and Enshrinement committees. Prosise is past-president of the Jackson Township Community Improvement Corporation. He and wife Sandra have two sons.

Under the direction of Prosise, with assistance from vice chairman Traci Tsai, the Game Committee is responsible for timing and coordination of the pre-game and halftime activities during the NFL/Hall of Fame Game, to be held at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, featuring the Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers before a sold-out stadium and national television audience on NBC “Sunday Night Football.” The game also will be broadcast on Westwood One.

Dean KahlerKahler is a graduate of East Canton High School and Kent State University and also studied at Ohio University. He is retired but stays active by participating in many area running events, including the Enshrinement Festival’s 5-Mile Race in the wheelchair division. He has been active with the Ohio Education Association, as former treasurer of the Tri-County Teachers Association, and with the Hocking Watershed District. In 1987, he was named the Athens County Elected Official of the Year.

The Food Committee oversees the menu and wine selections and works closely with caterers to ensure the success of the food service to 12,000 guests at the Enshrinement Festival’s Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner, Fashion Show Luncheon, and Enshrinees GameDay Roundtable. Serving as vice-chairman of the committee is Pete Carbone.

Enshrinement Festival Events to be Featured on TV Broadcasts

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival events are enjoyed by nearly 700,000 people on site, and millions more will be able to enjoy several of the events via television broadcasts.


For the second year in a row, the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner on Thursday, August 6, will be broadcast on the NFL Network.  The event name appropriately reflects that the Hall of Fame Gold Jacket will be presented at this event to each member of the Class of 2015 Enshrinees.  It is one of three iconic symbols of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the other two being the bust which is unveiled at the Enshrinement Ceremony and forever showcased at the Hall of Fame, and the ring which is presented individually to each Enshrinee at his home stadium in the ensuing football season.

Tickets for this prestigious event are still available, and guests are being reminded that in order to accommodate the broadcast, the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner activities will begin with the cocktail party at 5 p.m., followed by dinner, the introduction of a large number of returning Gold Jackets/Hall of Famers, and the Gold Jacket presentation.

Major components of the event, including the presentation of the Gold Jackets to the Class of 2015 Enshrinees, will be broadcast on NFL Network on Thursday, August 6 from 9 to 10:30 p.m., available on Time Warner channel 346 and 1346 HD,  and on Massillon Cable channel 104 and 704 HD.


Approximately 105 parade units will participate in this year’s Community Parade on Sunday, July 26, in downtown Canton.

The community-based parade, founded in 1980 as the Junior Parade, offers local and regional groups the opportunity to participate in an exciting, professional event. The parade units will be staged in the Nationwide Insurance Companies parking lot, with units stepping off at 2:30 p.m. from 11th St. N, traveling south on Market Ave. through the downtown area, and disbanding at approximately Second St. S.

Pam Cook and Gary Rivers from News-Talk 1480 WHBC will team up as co-commentators of the parade from their broadcast booth at the “Market Square” (the former Kresge green space) on Market Ave., between Third and Fourth Streets, North, and Michaela Madison will handle on-street interviews.

The Community Parade broadcast will be available on Monday, July 27 and Tuesday, July 28 at 8 p.m. on the following:

  • WIVM-TV  39.1 and WIVN-TV 29.1
  • Time Warner cable channel 989 in Stark County
  • Time Warner cable channel 4 in Tuscarawas, Holmes and Carroll Counties
  • Massillon Cable channel 128 in Stark and Wayne Counties


The TimkenSteel Grand Parade will be held on Saturday, Aug. 8, beginning at 8 a.m. The first grand parade was held in 1963, and it has become one of the largest of the events celebrating the induction of the newest Class of Enshrinees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This year’s celebration will feature the Class of 2015 Enshrinees and will include a large contingent of returning Gold Jackets/Hall of Famers. Parade spectators will be treated to the sights and sounds of 12 giant helium balloons, 15 marching and military bands, 10 floats, and 20 specialty units, as well as antique vehicles, animal units, and much, much, more.  Specialty units like the giant walking flag, The Jesse White Tumbling Team from Chicago, and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile are sure to thrill. Spectators will be energized by the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders, their “Skol Line” and mascot Viktor.

Reminder:  Spectators will be required to show their tickets before being permitted to sit in reserved areas, and this will be strictly enforced.

The TimkenSteel Grand Parade will enjoy a wide television viewing audience on Fox Sports Ohio, on Sunday, August 16 approximately 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. (or following the Cincinnati Reds live post-game show), with a re-air scheduled for Monday, August 17 from 10:00 pm to midnight. Fox Sports Ohio is available to almost six million households saturating Ohio and reaching into portions of West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York.

The TimkenSteel Grand Parade broadcast will also be available on Saturday, August 22 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday August 23 at 2 p.m. on the following:

  • WIVM-TV  39.1 and WIVN-TV 29.1
  • Time Warner cable channel 989 in Stark County
  • Time Warner cable channel 4 in Tuscarawas, Holmes and Carroll Counties
  • Massillon Cable channel 128 in Stark and Wayne Counties

For more information, call Erin Adcock at (330) 458-2053, or visit the Enshrinement Festival Web site at www.profootballhoffestival.com.

Enshrinement Festival Names 2015 Key Committee Chairs

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival department of Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have named the following key committee chairs: Laura Weisgarber, Ambassadors; Allyson Bussey, Guest Services; and Guy Ruda, Enshrinement.

Laura WeisgarberWeisgarber, a Massillon native, graduated from Jackson High School and The Ohio State University.  She had a 23-year career at Diebold, Inc. and most recently spent four years as controller at V & S Schuler.  A member of the Ambassador Committee since 2000, and vice chair for the past four years, this is her first year as chairman. She is on the finance committee of Domestic Violence Project Inc., past president of Institute Management of Accountants, and past chairman of IMA Ohio Regional Council.  A Eucharistic Minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, her only “child” has four legs and fur!

Ambassadors Committee vice chairmen are Matthew Petit and Evan Hannon. The Ambassadors Committee is responsible for the First Play event, Ambassador Program, and Welcome Ambassadors. The Ambassador Program works with the returning Hall of Famers to visit and speak at various community locations. The Welcome Ambassador program has been entrusted with the responsibility of welcoming and assisting our thousands of visitors, which can include helping everyone from the paying customer to a returning Hall of Famer or other dignitary.

The First Play event will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, August 6. Nearly 2,000 enthusiastic youngsters will pass an official NFL football through a three-mile child link chain, from the site in downtown Canton where the NFL was founded in 1920, to the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Emphasizing the importance of physical fitness starting at an early age, it is also a great ceremonial kick-off to an incredible weekend of football.

Allyson BusseyBussey is a graduate of Massillon Washington High School, Kent State University, Leadership Stark County Signature Program, and Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy. She has served on the Fan Appreciation Party and transitioned this year to chairman of the newly formed Guest Services Committee.

She has received numerous award, including 2014 NE Ohio Tourism Excellence Award, 2012 ystark! 20 Under 40 Award, and 2011 Lake Chamber of Commerce Impact Award.  She serves on the Ohio Travel Association Executive Board, is a founding member of the Ohio Has It! Group Tour Organization, and is chairperson of Heartland Travel Showcase.

Guest Services is a new initiative to enhance the visitor experience and provide excellence in hospitality and information services. Volunteers will be stationed at strategically placed tents throughout Pro Football Hall of Fame campus during Hall of Fame Enshrinement weekend to answer visitor information questions and provide any other assistance as needed.  These volunteers will have a broad knowledge of things happening on the campus grounds as well as what exists in the community.  Guest Services will also be stationed at the Fairgrounds to assist visitors who will be transported to the campus, park and direct all motor coaches attending events, and oversee handicapped shuttle transportation. Bussey is being assisted by vice chair Mark Sibert.

Guy RudaRuda, a sales associate for R. Z. Marketing Group, is serving his 15th year as chairman of the Enshrinement Ceremony Committee. He previously served 18 years as a member of the committee, as well as three years as chairman of the former NFL Experience Committee. Ruda and his wife Gail are the proud parents of David and Danielle.

Ruda and his team of volunteers prepare the facilities and programming for staging, seating and logistics of the Enshrinement Ceremony program.  Assisting him will be co-vice chairmen Terry Coyne for planning and Dave McRoberts for facilities. The Enshrinement Ceremony for the Class of 2015 football greats will be held Saturday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The stellar Class of Enshrinees includes Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Bill Polian, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Mick Tingelhoff, and Ron Wolf.

Prizes to be Awarded for Enshrinement Festival Photo Contest

Cash prizes will be awarded in the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival’s 27th annual Photo Contest. Snapshot enthusiast or professional photographer?  All are invited to enter by taking photos at any of the outdoor Enshrinement Festival events beginning July 26 through September 13.  Awards will be made in both the professional and non-professional categories, and some of the winning photos may be used in future Enshrinement Festival publications.

 Due to the generous support of the Western Reserve Group, cash prizes for the contest total $1,800, and $100 prizes may be awarded to each of the six first place photos chosen from professional and non-professional divisions in the following categories: Community Parade, Balloon Classic/Jackson-Belden Music Fest & Fireworks, Drum Corps International Competition Tour of Champions, TimkenSteel Grand Parade, Canton Kickoff Celebration, and Gold Jacket 5K National Championship. Multiple honorable mention awards in the amount of $25 may also be given in each category. A Best of Show winner will be selected from all entries and will receive $250.Up to 10 photos can be submitted for a single entry fee of $10.  If you have more than 10 great photos to submit, multiple entry fees are welcomed.  Entry forms are available at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Web site at www.ProFootballHOFEF.com. The complete Enshrinement Festival schedule of events is also available on the Web site.All entries must be mailed or delivered to: Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, 222 Market Ave. N., Canton, OH 44702. The deadline for receiving photos is 5 p.m. on Sept. 18.  The winning photos will be on display at the Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography at 520 Cleveland Avenue North in downtown Canton, and on the Enshrinement Festival’s Web site.

For more information, contact Andrea Hartman at (330) 458-2054 or andreah@cantonchamber.org.