Woollybear Festival

The annual Woollybear Festival is held every Fall in downtown Vermilion, Ohio, on Lake Erie. The one-day, family event, which began in 1973, features a woolly bear costume contest in which children, even pets, are dressed up as various renditions of the woolly bear caterpillar.

The festival is held every year around October 1 on a Sunday on which the Cleveland Browns either have an away game or are not playing.[1] It is touted as the largest one-day festival in Ohio, with attendance over 100,000.[2][3]


The festival is the brainchild of Dick Goddard, long-time weatherman at Cleveland's WJW-TV.[4] The Woolly Bear Caterpillar is similarly celebrated for its mythical association to winter forecasting.[2] After the caterpillars' eggs hatch in fall, folklore suggests the severity of an upcoming winter can be gauged by observing the amount of black versus orange in the caterpillars' bands.

Attracting 2,000 spectators in the first year, the number grew to an estimated 15,000 by the eighth festival and quickly overwhelmed the town of Birmingham. Of the 13 cities that expressed interest, organizers selected Vermilion as the new home.[2]

The "Woollybear 500" is a comedic race that starts off with Vermilion's police and fire chiefs selecting woollybears to race. The woollybears are obtained by the Vermilion Chamber and details of the training and skills of said woollybears are not divulged to the participants. The race is monitored by professionals from TV-8. No woollybears are harmed in the making of these races.[citation needed]

The 2020 Woollybear Festival was the first since the event's inception not to be held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Zurcher, Neil (2010). Tales from the Road: Memoirs from a Lifetime of Ohio Travel, Television, and More. Cleveland: Gray & Co. p. 273. ISBN 978-1598510645. One of the little-known facts about the Woollybear Festival is how its date is chosen each year. Goddard has worked for many seasons as the statistician for all home games of the Cleveland Browns. He waits until he sees the team's schedule each fall, then picks the Sunday in late September or early October that the Browns are playing out of town. That becomes Woollybear Sunday.
  2. ^ a b c Vermilion Chamber of Commerce. "Woollybear Festival". Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  3. ^ Stratford, Suzanne (2012-09-25). "40th Annual Woollybear Fest Preps Underway". WJW-TV. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  4. ^ Crump, Sarah (2009-05-04). "Dick Goddard is most sunny when it's 70: My Cleveland". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  5. ^ Coe, Sandra (2020-07-13). "Woollybear Festival goes into hibernation for 2020" (PDF) (Press release). Vermilion Chamber of Commerce.

Coordinates: 41°25′18″N 82°21′41″W / 41.421728°N 82.361327°W / 41.421728; -82.361327