COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Goodale Park is packed with people and vendors for this year’s ComFest, the first time in two years the festival is being held in person.

The event is about bringing people together from all walks of life to just be themselves.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, ComFest began in 1972 with student activists and small business owners who wanted to celebrate the community. Subsequently, antiwar protests had begun on college campuses across the nation. That first ComFest not only served as a space to share progressive ideas but also to fundraise for protestors who had been arrested. 

Since then, the festival has continued to bring communities together, taking place near Ohio State University, then moving to the Short North in the 1980s and to Goodale Park in the ’90s. 

Amid the live music at the park Saturday were vendors offering just about everything: Food, drinks, artwork, jewelry, and so much more.

The event is completely run by volunteers, with everyone from bartenders to booth workers to those picking up the trash there by choice and helping the community.

“Part of the fun of attending ComFest is not just being at the festival and enjoying the music and everything that is going on, but hanging out with your friends and pitching in really makes the experience even better,” said Marty Stutz, a ComFest volunteer and spokesperson.

It takes thousands of Columbus community members to step up and make ComFest possible each year.

“ComFest is all volunteer, it always has been,” Stutz said. “There is no corporate sponsorship, so in order to put the festival on every year, ComFest needs members of the community to step up and tackle various jobs that are needed to put the festival on.”

Organizers said it’s a message of unity that keeps volunteers and attendees coming back each year.

“I’ve volunteered forever, wherever needs me, but this is just so much fun, to be out and about with a lot of people and it’s just so good to be back after so many years,” said volunteer Laurie Gang.

“We’ve been coming for like 16 years,” said attendees Ian and Andrew Byard. “Actually, I think it’s been longer than that. I’ve been coming since before you were born.”

Local bands played for the crowd Saturday while food trucks and vendors lined the park for people to browse and give back to those volunteers.

“It allows us to support small businesses in Columbus and really get to the heart of what Columbus is about,” the Byards said.

The festival starts up again Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 8 p.m.