Cleveland Botanical Gardens jumpstarts autumn with RIPE! Fest

September 19th, 2013

Crunchy leaves, hot apple cider, scarves and pumpkin flavored everything. The first day of autumn is this Sunday, Sept. 22. To celebrate the beginning of fall, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens are hosting their fourth annual RIPE! Fest. The festival begins Saturday morning, Sept. 21 and lasts throughout Sunday evening, Sept. 22. RIPE! will feature some of Cleveland’s top chefs and restaurants. Local chefs will hold cooking demonstrations using the best fall flavors. In addition, there will be beer and wine tastings as well as workshops on planting your own garden.

On Sunday morning, Cleveland’s top chefs will whip up some of the most creative pancakes in the second annual Pancake Flip-Off. Visitors will decide whose pancakes are the best. The event starts at 9 a.m. and the winner will be announced at 11 a.m.

Tom O’Konowitz ‘99, the director of communications for the Cleveland Botanical Gardens is a John Carroll University alumnus, and was also an editor for The Carroll News. He explained, “The Pancake Flip-Off is a great way for Cleveland chefs to share some secrets and good-natured competition.”

“Last RIPE! Fest was the inaugural year for the Pancake Flip-Off. Tickets sold out in advance and we had over 200 people in attendance. The event was a great success and we are looking forward to this year.”

The 2012 winning pancake was a lemon soufflé style by Chef Doug Katz from Fire, Food & Drink in Shaker and Katz Club Diner on Lee Road. Chef Katz will be defending his title in this year’s Pancake Flip-Off.

In addition to the Pancake Flip-Off, attendees can shop at the Cleveland farmers market, over 10 acres of outdoor gardens, while enjoying live music.  At the market, you can find local candles, soaps, flavorful ice cream, artisan coffee, unique gifts and Cleveland’s original food trucks.

If you are interested in attending the RIPE! Fest, you can buy tickets online at Pre-sale tickets will be $11 or only an additional $4 for the Pancake Flip Off. Admission includes the festival and access to all 10 acres of the beautiful Cleveland Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens are located in University Circle, an up and coming area for arts and culture.

Can’t make it to RIPE! Fest? You can visit the Cleveland Botanical Gardens year round. JCU students have discounted admission of $6 on Wednesdays. Garden hours are also extended on Wednesdays, staying open until 9 p.m.  If you enjoy your visit, you can purchase a junior membership with a student ID for only $35. This membership gives you unlimited access to the garden for a year.


Editor’s Note: Check out Alexandria’s blog at for coverage of the event.