In addition to food and beverage sampling, live music, artisan crafters and family activities, a new partnership is literally growing with Prayers From Maria, an organization that brings hope to children with cancer. Their mission features the sunflower as its symbol of strength and hope.
Founded in 2007, Prayers From Maria bears the namesake of 7-year-old Maria McNamara, who was diagnosed with a glioma in 2006. During her own battle, Maria chose to pray for all children suffering from cancer, along with their families. Since she died in 2007, her parents Megan and Ed McNamara have worked to raise awareness and money to fund childhood cancer research.
Standing as a symbol of hope, the original “Maria’s Field of Hope” in Avon, a 60-acre field of sunflowers, has bloomed annually since 2013 in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Today, Cedar Point is helping to grow the movement with a second location: Maria’s Field of Hope at Cedar Point.
More than 160,000 sunflower seeds are being planted on 8 acres of land next to Cedar Point’s Express Hotel on Cedar Point Drive. In addition, the sunflower becomes the shining icon of Frontier Festival, celebrating hope and harvest at this fully immersive Western street festival. The sunflower is featured throughout the activities, décor and merchandise.
During Frontier Festival, guests can learn more about Prayers From Maria, make donations and purchase Prayers From Maria merchandise with all proceeds going to the organization.
“Our efforts to help families in meaningful ways goes beyond our park gates,” said Jason McClure, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “The inspirational story of Maria’s battle and her selflessness is something that we are so very happy to support.”
Megan McNamara, co-founder of Prayers From Maria, added, “Cedar Point is a special place that embraces being a kid and where special memories are made. We couldn’t think of a better fit to expand our message of hope.”
The new Frontier Festival will transcend all of Frontier Town from the Town Hall Museum to the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad’s Frontier Station. Fit for guests with hearty appetites, the festival combines samplings of refreshing suds and ciders, wines, live music and dancing, hoedowns, kids’ crafting and talented artisans.
Some of the highlights include:
• Food for the frontier appetite — Throughout Frontier Town, guests can sample everything from fire-roasted suckling pig to pulled pork sliders. Other highlights include bison chili with wild berry multi-grain boule, roasted pork belly with mustard-peach marmalade, smoked whole salmon with vinegar slaw and corn tortilla and sweet and sassy wings – all smoked and grilled on an open flame. Homemade desserts include wild strawberry shortcake, peaches and cream and layered blueberry crumb cake with fresh berries and sweet cream.
• Belly washers — Frontier Festival’s signature drink, the Sunflower Spritz, will quench everyone’s thirst after the food sampling. A special concoction with sweet mango nectar and Sprite, topped with bursts of sunshine, will make this non-alcoholic treat a great refresher on a hot Frontier Town summer day. Other non-alcoholic beverages include hand-crafted lemonades of classic lemon, blueberry, raspberry and jalapeno mint, with the option to add moonshine or vodka.
Adding to the already vast selection of beverages are almost 50 craft beers, ciders and wines, including selections from Great Lakes Brewing Company, BrewDog USA, Rhinegeist Brewery, Yeungling, Lonz Winery, Copa di Vino, Angry Orchard and more.
• Dancing boots not required — The Gossip Gulch stage becomes the town square and becomes the center of all things music during Frontier Festival. Guests can partake in the Hubbub Hoedown where they’ll learn line and square dancing, or enjoy bluegrass and classic country with a twangy twist as the Backwoods Pickers and Grand Ole Pickers take the stage. Additional special guest performers include Loop Rawlins, lasso-handling showman, and local musicians Matt Vanfossen and The Brothers Mogan.
• Artisan square — Local artisans will offer unique homemade items near the Town Hall Museum. Guests can browse their collections and watch demonstrations.
• Kids’ crafting and activities — Kids can explore the Flower Patch to pick a flowerpot to decorate, or color a sunflower scene, create their own paper bag cowboy boot and craft a yarn horseshoe for free. They can also compete in Snoopy’s daily pie eating contest, win a real pie at the pie walk, participate in the balloon stampede or learn to lasso a cactus.
• Sunflower Central — Exclusive festival merchandise will be available, featuring the official festival t-shirt and pin, drinkware, specialty beef jerky and more. The General Store will feature an array of all things sunflower, including Prayers From Maria merchandise.
• The Barn Artist — Scott Hagan, known as “The Barn Artist,” will transform the Cedar Creek Mine Ride wall into one of his custom creations, June 11-13.
Frontier Festival runs Friday through Sunday, June 30. The event will begin at 4 p.m. each day with a “keg tapping” ceremony on the Gossip Gulch stage. Guests can save on food and beverage sampling tickets when they purchase online in advance. For complete Frontier Festival details, visit cedarpoint.com/events.