Updated Tue, Sep 2, 2014 11:11 am
Aquabear Legion’s dedication to spreading the Ohio music gospel continues this weekend as the Aquabear County Fair returns for an eighth year.
The event, which features 15 acts from Athens and around the state, takes place this Friday and Saturday at The Union Bar & Grill, with a Saturday afternoon in-store show at Haffa's Records.
Aquabearlegion.com is a resource for all things surrounding the Ohio music scene. The site began in 2004 and the idea for a music festival came shortly after.
"It made sense for it to exist online but we loved the idea of getting a bunch of Ohio bands together for a show, too...it was sort of a natural extension," said Aqubear co-founder Brian Koscho.
The Wire, a now-defunct Athens venue, hosted the very first Aquabear show in 2005, with bands traveling from Columbus and Cleveland to play with local acts. Everyone had a blast, and the Aquabear County Fair was launched in 2007.
Since its inception, several Athens venues have hosted the event, including ARTS/West, The Union, Donkey Coffee and Casa Cantina, along with non-traditional locations such as Haffa’s Records, O’Betty’s Red Hot restaurant and Bruce Manor, a student residence on West Union Street that is well-known for hosting house shows.
Every Aquabear County Fair has had its own quirks and charms, but the O'Betty's Red Hot show in 2012 holds a special place in Koscho's heart.
"I always like the unconventional things that pop up," he said.
To pay for this weekend's entertainment, a pancake breakfast fundraiser was held last month at United Campus Ministry. A holiday show is also held each December to raise funds for the event.
Each year's lineup features established Athens music veterans playing alongside local newcomers and select acts from around Ohio. A couple of bands from the Dayton area--Speaking Suns and The 1984 Draft--are performing this time, with Connections and WVWhite making their way from Columbus.
It's important to Koscho that the event remain free, just as it's been since the beginning.
"We want folks to come out and see some of the amazing music being created right here in Ohio so we've tried to make it free," he explained. "We pay all of the bands for playing and give more to the out-of-town bands. We gladly take donations, as well."
2014 AQUABEAR COUNTY FAIR SCHEDULE (free admission to all shows)
Friday, Sept. 5, The Union (18 West Union Street)
Saturday, Sept. 6, Haffa’s Records (15 West Union Street)
Saturday, Sept. 6, The Union (18 West Union Street)