Don’t miss these Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival 2021 Live: Parade, concert, balloons, fun fest, Gold Jacket ceremony. This year’s Pro Football HOF Festival Enshrinement Festival are going to be epic. Due to the cancellation of last year’s events, both the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame classes are going to be enshrined.
And the festival also will be a centennial celebration commemorating the birth of the National Football League. Canton’s week-plus, football-inspired extravaganza will be packed with the usual pageantry — autograph sessions, the balloon launch, First Play, the big game, grand parade, concert headliners, the fashion show, and enshrinement speeches, when the new inductees will tell the story of their path to football’s ultimate shrine.
But few festival-goers and football fans can attend everything, so here’s a list of the top five recommended can’t miss events-
My first grand parade was in the summer of 1999.
After being hired at The Repository that June, I had heard coworkers and Cantonians hype the magnitude of the event. But it wasn’t until I strolled onto Cleveland Avenue NW on a sunny August morning that I grasped the full scope of the parade.
Pausing for a long moment, I scanned the crowd and absorbed the scene. Spectators crowded the roadside, often rows deep, many of them having secured a spot several hours earlier. My eyes grew even wider once the parade started. Wow, wow, wow! Every other parade I had witnessed before paled in comparison.
Football players I used to watch on television rode in convertible sports cars. Football fans bedecked in flamboyant attire rode on floats. Marching bands pumped the air with the boom of brass and percussion. Military veterans were saluted. Giant balloons floated overhead controlled by teams of volunteers on the ground. Energetic cheerleaders did flips and cartwheels. Elaborate, color-splashed floats cruised over the brick street. Unicyclists peddled. Candy was tossed to kids.
The parade seemed to stretch forever, taking well over an hour to cover 25 blocks. The Grand Parade is a local rite of passage. And for at least one summer morning, everybody seems to be smiling and happy.
Another wow moment during the festival is the hot air balloons.
Uniquely designed balloons — some resembling elephants and footballs — fill the skies. Others are more traditional but vividly hued. One after another, hot air balloons ascend and entertain onlookers below with an aerial display.
The Balloon Classic attracts balloonists from throughout the United States. More than 130,000 spectators view the balloon activities over the weekend, according to festival estimates.
Balloons are launched from the Kent State University at Stark and Stark State College campus area. Weather conditions and the amount of wind dictate whether balloons take flight.
Morning flights are a thing of beauty and highly recommended. For evening flights, if you are heading to the takeoff point, make sure to plan ahead because traffic will be heavy.
And you don’t have to be up close for a grand view. Balloons can be seen aloft from near and far — downtown Canton, throughout Jackson Township, the Uniontown area, other parts of Stark, as well as from outside the county.
The Balloon Classic is scheduled to run from July 30 through Aug. 1.
Also enjoyable is the Night Glow, which is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. July 30, but it’s also weather-dependent.
A fireworks show is scheduled for 10 p.m. July 31 in conjunction with the Balloon Classic. Food and music are other attractions.
Concert for Legends
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium is a first-class venue a 23,000-seat stadium that doubles as a stage for acclaimed bands and musicians.
Area residents don’t have to drive to Cleveland or Blossom Music justify to enjoy a major act. They come to Canton instead during the festival. And for a few hours, music becomes bigger than football. The Concert for Legends is a ticketed event.
Past concerts have showcased Aerosmith, Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Kid Rock and Toby Keith. This year it’s Lynyrd Skynyrd and Brad Paisley. As motorists whiz by on Interstate 77, the stadium becomes a concert mecca.
Daytime morphs into night. Stage lights flash and smoke erupts. Music blasts from the sound system as bands perform in the shadow of the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum. A sight that has become another hallmark of the annual festival.
Gold Jacket Ceremony
This ticketed event is a treat for admirers of professional football.
For one, the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Ceremony is not speech-heavy or nearly as long as the actual enshrinement. But it’s a similarly polished spectacle at the Memorial Civic justify broadcast live on the NFL Network, and it’s when the new class of gridiron greats first don their gold jackets while often expressing raw emotion.
While mingling in the hallways, it’s also possible you will be within selfie distance of a new inductee.
Fun Fest and Beer Fest
More informal and relaxed in atmosphere, the HOF Fun Fest is a winner of an event on the grounds outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum.
Activities abound for children. DJs, live bands and NFL cheerleaders will be on hand. Special guest appearances are a bonus. Contests also take place.
Crazily dressed football fans, often wearing face paint, also will be there for selfie moments. Roaming among fans clad in team jerseys is fun as well, including spotting retro classics like a No. 89 Mike Ditka or No. 34 Earl Campbell.
And it’s not uncommon for a past Hall of Fame inductee to be spotted among the crowd while obliging interview requests.
Also, for those in pursuit of a cold beverage or craft brew, the adjoining Beer Fest is for you.
The Fun Fest is free and open to the public from Aug. 5 through Aug. 9. The Beer Fest is also free to attend on the Hall of Fame campus, with beverages sold.
For more information and the full schedule of events, visit here
The Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers will face each other in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021 at 8 p.m. ET in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. The storied franchises were originally scheduled to clash last year but the game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The game marks the seventh appearance by each club in the annual preseason classic which is tied for the most by any team. Both teams own 3-3 records in the Hall of Fame Game series.
The Hall of Fame Game is an annual preseason game that kicks off the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities. The contest also marks the start of the NFL preseason. The game will be broadcast on FOX. As of now, the NFL plans to allow fans to attend the game.