BusinessOttawa County

Kelleys Island: Still thriving late in the season


Kelleys Island Chamber of Commerce

The summer crowds may have dwindled, but Kelleys Island remains a destination for travel well into November. We kicked off the fall events schedule with Oktoberfest, the Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner, Murder Mystery Weekend, and The 19th Annual Chili Cookoff. October concluded with uproariously spooky family and adult halloween celebrations! November’s events opened with Owl Fest, followed by the Half Marathon & 5k. The rest of the month brings with it the Thanksgiving Potluck at the Village Pump, Christmas Park Lighting in downtown Kelleys Island, the Sights, Scents, and Sounds of the Holidays at the Winery, and the Tailgate Party also at the Village Pump.

As for 2019, our Chamber has elected a new board and a theme was chosen for next year’s Island Fest, which will be Summer of Love. The year 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, which was the inspiration behind the decision for the theme. As always, the flagship event of the summer will include a parade, vendors, food trucks, a street dance, games and raffles, and plenty of fun perfect for the whole family!

The Glacial Grooves site, Kelleys Island’s most popular natural attraction, is currently receiving a much-needed upgrade. The grooves were carved into solid limestone bedrock about 18,000 years ago by the great ice sheet that once covered part of North America. Access to view the grooves formerly consisted of a set of stairs. The installation of a ramp will make the Glacial Grooves more accessible for people with certain disabilities. Updates to the site will meet the standards for accessibility as designated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Construction (facilitated in collaboration with the Ohio History Connection) will include an aluminum ramp, new signage developed using Universal Design, and an improved upper viewing area. Shaw OTT Medical, located in Mansfield, OH, will manufacture and install the aluminum ramp.

The businesses on the island are slowly shuttering for the rest of the year in preparation for the island’s eventual ferry boat recess. The ferry boat line closes for about 3 months during the winter and the date of this closure is a weather-influenced decision made by the Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line.

During this time, islanders typically visit mainland locales close to Marblehead, head south (Bonita Springs, Florida seems to be popular), or hunker down for the season on Kelleys. It’s a time for relaxation, but also for neighbors to get together. According to records, about 150 or so people spend winter on Kelleys Island. Locals report that they hold weekly potlucks and Wii bowling get-togethers. The creative among islanders declare that winter is an excellent time to focus on their artwork.

If you wish to travel to the island after the ferry boat recess, you may do so via Griffing Flying Service. Visit for more information. There are several rentals available on Kelleys during the winter season. To reserve your lodging, please contact the Kelleys Island Chamber of Commerce at or by calling 419-746-2360.