The Vermilion Chamber is Excited to Announce
The 51st Annual Woollybear Festival
Sunday October 8th, 2023
9 AM - 5 PM
In beautiful Vermilion OH
Presenting the 2022 Winner of the Woollybear/pet costume look-a-like contest!
2022 Woollybear Parade
2022 Woollybear 500 Winner
2022 Woollybear King & Queen
Woollybear Parade Highlights
Woollybear Worlds Greatest Kids Race
Woollybear 50 Highlights
Woollybear 50 Committee and Crew
History of Woollybear Festival
The Woollybear wackiness all started more than five decades ago, when Northeast Ohio TV weatherman Dick Goddard of Fox8 TV in Cleveland talked with some friends and co-workers about his idea of a celebration built around using the Woollybear to forecast what kind of winter was ahead.
In 1972 the newly-elected officers of the Parent Teachers Association at the Firelands-Florence Township Elementary School in the tiny community of Birmingham in Erie County were looking around for a vehicle to raise funds. When they heard about Goddard’s idea of a Woollybear Festival, they contacted him and offered to stage the festival with his help.
Subsequently, the first Woollybear Festival was held in Birmingham and attracted perhaps 2,000 people. The parade was short—just the Firelands High School Band, some boy scouts, the local fire department, along with personalities from TV8—because it was so short they decided to go around the parade route twice, just to make it look longer.
After eight years in Birmingham, the crowd at the event had grown to an estimated 15,000 and was causing gridlock on the highways into the tiny community, so it was decided to move it to a larger city.
Thirteen towns and cities around northern Ohio expressed interest in hosting the ever-growing family-oriented event.
Goddard and a committee of the original founders finally settled on the pretty resort city of Vermilion, only nine miles north of where the festival was born in Birmingham. And the rest as they say is history…
Woollybear Parade Map, Festival Area & Parking
Vermilion’s Woollybear Parade is one of the largest parades in the state of Ohio. It starts at 1:30 pm and lasts approximately 2 hours.
- Please remember the streets will close at 12:30 pm so plan accordingly.
- Featuring many radio and television personalities.
- Parade participants include: Woollybear kids and pets, many marching bands with nearly 2,000 musicians radio and TV personalities vintage automobiles, floats animals, festival queens clowns, and much more!
- Parade heads east on Liberty Ave., starting at Grand St., then turn right on Sandusky St., then right onto South St., ending at Decatur St.
There are two Woollybear Festival areas in the center of historic downtown Vermilion, Ohio. One is at Victory Park on Rt. 60 (S. Main St.) north of Ohio St. The second is in Exchange Park at the corner of Rt. 60 (N. Main St.) and Rt. 6 (Liberty Ave.).
The Woollybear Festival areas consist of entertainment, food booths, craft booths, and merchant sales. Woollybear apparel can be found at the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce booth. Various entertainers are at the main stage throughout the day. Parade commentary occurs at the reviewing stand.
See Woollybearfestival.com for Woollybear Festival updates.
The common moth Pyrrharctia isabella is known by different common names at its two main life stages. The adult is the Isabella tiger moth and the larva is called the banded woolly bear. The larvae of many species of Arctiid moths are called “woolly bears” (“wooly bears”, “woollybears”) because of their long, thick, furlike setae. This species is black at both ends with a band of coppery red in the middle. The adult moth is dull yellow to orange with a robust, furry thorax and a small head. Its wings have sparse black spotting and the proximal segments on its first pair of legs are bright reddish-orange.
The banded woolly bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form. It survives winter freezes by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. Once the weather warms, the larva devours all the grass and weeds it can, pupates, and becomes an adult, which then lives through the summer. It is the larvae of this species that are the subject of common folklore, which has it that the forthcoming severity of a winter can be predicted by the amount of black on the caterpillar; this is the most familiar woolly bear in North America.
The setae of the woolly bear are not urticant, but they will play dead if picked up or disturbed.
Discover Vermilion, Ohio
If the excitement of the Woollybear Festival isn’t enough then while you’re in Vermilion be sure to stroll around town and visit its quaint shops and stores offering everything from homemade chocolates to candles. There’s even an old-fashioned soda fountain in downtown Vermilion. Another unique feature of Vermilion is “The Lagoons” a prestigious residential area across the river from downtown. To get a water-level view of the town and the lagoons The Mystic Belle, a tiny sternwheeler cruise boat, will be operating during the Woollybear Festival taking visitors on rides up and down the Vermilion River.