The clock is ticking down. It is almost time for the 40th Twins Days Festival, a yearly celebration in Twinsburg, Ohio.
In just 10 days, thousands of twins will arrive, two-by-two, in this small suburb of Cleveland to celebrate all things twin. This will be our family’s sixth year attending Twins Days. Rather than a recap, I’ve decided to put together a little guide to the weekend based on our experiences. The festival has been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Annual Gathering of Twins and consists of a weekend of activities. We have only participated in a handful of the scheduled activities, but here are some of our family’s favorites.
All the photos in this post were taken by me during our trips to Twins Days Festival and are mostly of my own kids.
Friday’s Welcome Wiener Roast at Twinsburg High School
All of the events scheduled on Friday are only for registered twins and their families. This is the time when everyone is coming into town (we usually leave Chicago Friday morning and arrive in time for the Wiener Roast). Twins who are pre-registered can pick up their festival packets, which include name tags, programs, Wiener Roast dinner tickets, lots of coupons for local places, information on Twin Studies and more. The name tags also serve as admission to the festival grounds and the ID number on the back is used for any of the contests on Saturday and Sunday.
The Wiener Roast is a time when old friends meet up. There are thousands of photos taken and fun for the whole family. Dinner is, of course, hot dogs, and is included for registered Twins. (Those of us born without a twin can pay a couple dollars and eat too.) There are bounce houses for kids, bags games for adults, lots of camaraderie and catching up with twins you see year after year. Definitely bring your camera and be ready to take pictures. Two sets of twins will get together for a photo then others will join until there are 10 sets in the frame.
The first year we went, we sort of happened upon the event, having no real idea what to expect. Walking into the gymnasium at the high school was honestly surreal. Everyone you see has a double. Nearly everyone dresses like their twin for the event, even if they never do in real life.
Double Take Parade
For me the parade is the highlight of the festival. It is unlike any parade I have ever seen. There are floats and marching bands and politicians waving from convertibles as you’d expect, but the parade is also open to all twins who wish to walk. If you want to be in the parade, plan to get there early. Parking is available at the high school, but the area where the parade starts is about a mile away. There are golf cart shuttles that run back and forth, but it can be difficult if you have a stroller or a wagon, as most of the families with young twins do, so plan to arrive early enough to park and walk. The actual parade route takes you back up past the high school, so you will definitely do some walking that morning. The parade lineup starts at 8 a.m.
At the square where everyone gathers, they arrange the twins by age. The youngest ones head out first. This is great since then you finish first and can grab a spot near the end of the parade to see the rest. We tried without a wagon for the first time at age 3 and ended up carrying the kids part of the way. I would suggest unless your kids are used to walking more than a mile in a stretch, bring a stroller or wagon for the under-5 set.
Every year the festival has a theme, which is usually announced a few months in advance. Most people do dress to the theme, though there are plenty who just wear matching t-shirts too. Recent themes have included Western, Superheroes, Circus, Fairytales and the ‘60s, all with a twin flair. Some costumes are quite elaborate, with themed vehicles built on wagons or strollers. It’s definitely fun to see what costumes the theme will inspire. This year’s theme for the 40th festival is “Twins Days: Times 2 Remember!”
Registered twins who walk in the parade receive a participation ribbon, and they do have trophies for the best theme outfits. There are lots of twins who line the parade route and watch too. You don’t have to walk in the parade. (My kids love being in the parade though.)
The Parade route ends at the bottom of the hill from the festival grounds. Once you’re to the top of the hill you will find carnival rides, tons of fair foods, entertainment, a craft fair, research studies, twin contests and the group photo. My kids’ favorite part last year: The free Twin Pops! Most of the research studies are open to identical twins and adult twins, but we actually had one on skin cancer that my fraternal boys were able to participate in one year.
And there is always more posing for photos.
The contests are held in a large tent and have lots of different categories, including youngest and oldest twins, best theme outfits, furthest distance traveled for the festival and most-alike and least-alike. There are usually four contests on the stage at any time, it is a little chaotic but fun to watch. When we’ve been there, the youngest twins were only a few weeks old and the oldest were in their 90s.
My boys actually won second place for least-alike boys last year. We haven’t done the contests on Sunday but I imagine there is a much smaller group competing since the festival on Sunday tends to be less crowded in general.
The Group Photo is done on the football field, taken by someone who goes up on a cherry picker to get a good arial photo of the group. Get there early, even if it is hot and miserable. It gets really crowded and I have seen people get a little cut-throat about their spot to late-comers. (Most people are pleasant.)
The photographers only want twins in the photo, so they encourage parents of young kids to stay with them up until the last 1 minute warning and then get outside the photo area. The first year we just left them in the stroller. In the years after that we found some older twins who were willing to keep an eye on them; one year they even sat in the laps of the twins who were willing. Group photos are available for purchase and arrive about a month after the festival.
A Few Other Notes
- Twinsburg is a pretty small city. There are only a couple hotels and they book up fast with regulars who go every year. I also understand they can get pretty rowdy. We have always stayed in another suburb about 15 minutes from Twinsburg.
- There are definitely regulars who go every year. We have met so many twins who have been going since they were babies who are now teenagers, who have made life-long friends at the festival and who consider it “home” where everyone there understands you in a way you just don’t get outside Twinsburg. (There is even the story about identical twins who married other identical twins they met at Twins Days, and had identical twins.) Every year when we leave, my husband and I lament how the weekend makes us each wish we had a twin.
- Sunday is much less crowded than Saturday. The first year we went to the festival on Sunday and did the group photo that day, it was a lot more sparse. My kids got their picture in National Geographic online. (I found that out because it showed up in another page I follow.)
- There are tons of other events I didn’t even touch on here like a golf tournament, a 5K, Talent Shows, even fireworks.
- It can be hot. REALLY HOT. Bring plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- It’s a good idea to bring business/mommy cards with your contact info. You’ll meet tons of people and it’s an easy way to exchange information.
- There is a lot of press there. As I said, my kids ended up in National Geographic, but I also found a picture of them on the local Cleveland CBS website and I was interviewed for a story once in the Wall Street Journal. The Friday events are no-press but during the rest of the festival, expect cameras and news stories.
- Other twins we have met always want to know who is Twin A and who is Twin B. There is a certain kinship, I guess, with the A’s and B’s and we were asked that often.
- It’s not just for Twins! There are lots of Triplets and Even Quadruplets who attend. It’s called Twins Days but it is definitely for all multiples.
Are you a regular? Will you be going to the first time? Share your tips, experiences, and questions in the comments.
Jen Wood is a computer-nerd-turned-stay-at-home Mom to 5-year-old fraternal twin boys. They live in the suburbs of Chicago and make a yearly trek to Twinsburg Ohio for the Twins Days festival since they happened upon it when her boys were 9 months old. She is counting down the days until the dynamic duo start Kindergarten next month but will probably freak out from all that quiet.