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A melting pot of festivals

jpetkovic@plaind.comJ ust about anything qualifies as a festival these days. But you can tell a real one when you see it. It's about food and music and arts, but also communities, neighborhoods and tradition. Cleveland is fortunate to have so many such celebrations. From May through October, dozens of ethnic, cultural and street parties assault the senses with enough music, food and partying to make you feel as if you'd traveled your way around the world. Here are some of the highlights. We will be following up throughout the season, so feel free tosuggest your favorites.

Eighth Annual Cleveland Asian Festival, Saturday Sunday, Cleveland's Asia-Town, 216-539-4634; clevelandasianfestival .org: Bring on the Sumo wrestling, the egg roll-eating contest and Asian-pop dance competitions. This two-day bash also rolls out games, performers, food and vendors — and shines a spotlight on AsiaTown.

Blossom Time Festival,

Thursday-May 28, downtown Chagrin Falls, 440-2471004; Chagrin Falls is always picturesque and old-timey, especially when you can linger over ice cream in the summer. This four-day party takes it further. It features hot air balloon races, a carnival, pizza-eating contests and live music.

2017 Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival,

Thursday-May 29, Waterworks Park in Port Clinton, 419-734-5503; walleyefestival .com: Welcome to the Walleye Capital of the World — where fish take center stage, even when they're flopping. The fest features concerts, a parade, rides and a Kids Fishing Derby and taps into a sensibility that is straight Great Lakes.

19th Annual Berea's National Rib Cook-Off, May 26-29, Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, 164 Eastland Road, Berea, 440-234-5181; Yes, it's a chowdown, stocked with a wide array of sauces to go with the ribs (along with chicken and carnival treats). But the fest also has rides, games, competitions and an eclectic list of bands.

47th Annual Tremont Greek Festival, May 26-29, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 2187 West 14th St., Cleveland, 216-861-0116; Greek culture served with an endless supply of food has been the calling card of this bash for five decades. It also includes church tours, Greek bands and performers and, of course, baklava.

United States Polka Association Annual Polka Festival & Convention, May 26-28, Holiday Inn Cleveland South, 6001 Rockside Road, Independence, 440886-6157; convention-2017: Get kicky! The U.S. Polka Association will roll out more than a barrel. Try three full days of Polish-style polka music — complete with live bands and Polish traditions, which the group has celebrated for 49 years and counting.

Hessler Street Fair, June 3-4, Hessler Road, near Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue, in University Circle, Cleveland; Fifty years after the Summer of Love, and the vibes at this fest are still tie-dyed and drenched in the hippie 1960s. It's a block party full of music, arts, crafts, poetry, juggling, theater and spirit.

Parade the Circle, June 10, University Circle, Cleveland, 216-707-2483; clevelandart .org/events: Bring on the giant puppets and stilt-walkers for an artful celebration and a celebration of art that transforms University Circle into a free-for-all of fun.

Tater Tots & Beer Festival,

June 10, Voinovich Bicentennial Park, Cleveland; tatertotfestival .com/events/cleveland- oh/: Dude, you mean it's a fest for TOTS? Whoa, this bash pairs all kinds of styles of tater tots with live music and beer. I love tots.

LaureLive, June 10-11, Laurel School's Butler Campus,

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