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5 things to do in NEO: Film Festivals, Cleveland pinball show and more

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Ravenna Balloon A-Fair
The annual Ravenna Balloon A-Fair has been a regional favorite since 1979.

The Northeast Ohio region offers a film festival, flea market and plenty of fun this weekend. Here are five events to add to your calendar.

Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival

The 11th annual Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival kicks off Thursday, September 15, at 6 p.m., and it continues for nine days with film screenings at Shaker Square’s Atlas Cinemas. Since 2012, GCUFF has been a platform for celebrating African American filmmakers and enriching Black culture through cinema. Enjoy feature documentaries, short films, panel discussions and symposiums that center around this year’s theme of Afrofuturism.

Ravenna Balloon A-Fair

Hot air balloons have filled the sky around Ravenna on the third weekend of September since 1979. This year’s beloved Balloon A-Fair begins with a children’s parade on Thursday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m., and continues through Sunday, September 18, with activities taking place in Downtown Ravenna and at nearby Sunbeau Valley Farm. A grand parade, crafts, concessions, helicopter rides and a hot air balloon launch are among the signature events.

Cleveland Pinball and Arcade Show

Whether you’re a pinball novice or enthusiast, there’s plenty to see and play at the 7th annual Cleveland Pinball and Arcade Show. Running from Thursday, September 15, through Sunday, September 18, the past, present and future of pinball and arcade games will be celebrated at the Holiday Inn on Rockside Road in Independence.

Westside Flea

It’s the final Westside Flea of the summer taking place on Saturday, September 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at North Olmsted Community Park. Peruse booths of more than 100 vendors, featuring local small businesses, handmade goods and antiques. Live music and food trucks round out this family-friendly event.

Beech Creek Botanical Garden Butterfly Release Celebration

The Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Alliance is hosting a Butterfly Release Celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, and Sunday, September 18. Enjoy educational activities and crafts for the kids and participate in the release of hundreds of butterflies as they prepare to migrate for the winter.

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Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve
Butterflies will rule the sky this weekend in Alliance at the Beech Creek Botanical Garden's butterfly release celebration.

A native of Akron and graduate of Kent State University, Jean-Marie Papoi has been working in the field of video production for 15 years. Since joining Ideastream Public Media in 2016, she's enjoyed filming and telling the stories of community members throughout Northeast Ohio.