What originally started as a small social gathering for Blue Jackets bloggers and fans quickly turned into something much, much bigger.
For the past five years, Cannonfest has been a summer staple. Every year since its inception, the event has expanded – going from about 60 people in its first year to between 400-500 people last year. Due to the amount of interest, each year the grassroots fan festival has moved locations in order to accommodate the masses.
And the sixth edition will be no exception.
Don’t miss the Cannonfest fun on Aug. 23 at Dick’s Last Resort (343 N. Front St.), which is conveniently just a skip, a hop and a jump away from Blue Jackets home ice at Nationwide Arena, from 1-4 p.m.
“We love the proximity to Nationwide Arena,” said Alison Lukan of Buckeye State Hockey, one of the co-organizers. “We like the event to reflect the Blue Jacket fan, and so what better place than (Dick’s Last Resort) near the arena, in the shadow of the arena, to get people excited.”
Another important aspect of the event is charity, and several on-site auctions will be raising money for the Blue Jackets Foundation and the #HartnellDown Foundation. There will be exclusive, custom-made Cannonfest prints by local artist and CCAD senior Ashley Ware for sale. All proceeds will benefit the Blue Jackets Foundation.
“Of course, to honor the tradition that Mr. McConnell started for the Blue Jackets of being a part of the community and giving back – we wouldn’t consider the event a success if we didn’t do that as well,” Lukan said. “So we want to give back to the hallmark foundation of the organization with the Blue Jackets Foundation and then also honor organizations like #HartnellDown.”
The community-focused event will be kid-friendly, too. Inside, there will be a variety of food and drinks, and the celebrations will spill outside of the restaurant onto the Front St. Plaza. Blue Jackets in-arena host Mike Todd and FOX Sports Ohio's Dave Maetzold will be emceeing the event, and DKM Hockey will run another CBJ-themed game show. Also, there will be a podcasting corner where various podcasts and shows will be recorded live.
“It’s always meant to be an event for the fans, by the fans,” Lukan said. “Our structure is simply what the fans want to do.”
Fan group participation includes the Jacket Backers, the CBJ Artillery, Union Blue Soldiers, Monster's Jacket (a Cleveland-Columbus fan group) and many more.
“If you’re a fan of the Blue Jackets, there’s something at this event for you,” Lukan added. “It’s just a great way to connect more with all the different parts of the organization and the fan base, and you’ll definitely come away having had some fun and having met some great people.”
John Wooten will be displaying CBJ memorabilia. Exclusive, limited edition Cannonfest t-shirts are also in the works and three exclusive Cannonfest videos created by Shane Guilfoyle will be played at the event.
“We are so proud of the Blue Jackets fan base,” Lukan said. “They stick with this team day in, day out, year round, season in, season out and this is just a way to celebrate that and get excited for – what we know will be – the best season yet.”
For more information and updates on the event, be sure to follow co-organizer Matt Wagner (@bzarcher) on Twitter and check out the Cannon blog.
One piece of advice from the Cannonfest organizers? Stay until the end, because you never know who might show up…