The annual Woolybear Festival in Vermilion was yesterday. The weather wasn’t perfect but that didn’t stop 100,000 festival-goers from converging on the little town of 10,000. I went armed with my Nikon Z7 camera and managed 875 pictures in 2.5 hours.

The annual festival began in 1973 and has occurred every year except for the covid-ruined 2020. What is a Woolybear? A woolybear, or wooly bear, is the orange and brown caterpillar (the larva of the Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia Isabella) native to northern Ohio. The woolybear’s coat looks like fur and the popular belief holds that the thickness of the coat predicts the severity of the coming winter. The festival was started by Northeast Ohio TV weatherman Dick Goddard. A TV weatherman predicting the weather–get it? This year’s festival marked the first time Goddard wasn’t in attendance. The weatherman passed away last year at 89.

Backed by the Cleveland TV station, the festival has remained an annual fixture. It doesn’t hurt that the woolybear’s colors match the colors of the Cleveland Browns. This picture gives you a sense of the woolybear’s scale.

The festival is a combination of TV media event, parade, and carnival, a perfect venue for my photo-hungry Nikon. My last photo event was in early September when I visited northern Ohio’s famous amusement park, Cedar Point. I took 800+ photos that day too.

VHS flag corp

The festival is a celebration of small-town America. Each year’s event starts with the Vermilion High School band playing the National Anthem. People stood and men removed their hats during the playing just like every other year.

VHS band preparing to play another tune

It’s good to get fresh air and mingle with the mostly-maskless crowd. I won’t say that I didn’t see any masks but these photos are typical and you’ll have to look hard to find someone wearing a mask.

I’ll comb through these 875 photos to find ones that I can add to my collection of stock photos; photos I can use in my paintings. All my paintings (almost all) are based on my own photos. The 45 MB Nikon Z7 is perfect for my purposes. My 24 MB Nikon D750 can take images that are almost as good (and the autofocus is faster) but the Z7 is a better fit for my painter’s eye.

Here is a photo I took as I left the festival and started toward home.


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