By Kevin Greer, Lakeside Communications Manager

While the Lakeside-Marblehead Lighthouse Festival is underway this weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll see the Langford family taking part in the activities.

Chris and Betsey (Gribble) Langford have been going to the event since they were newlyweds in the early 2000s. They didn’t stop after having children, Carson and Makenna, who added to their fun and great memories.

“I don’t really have a favorite moment at the festival,” Chris said. “To me, it’s seeing our kids enjoy Lakeside because it’s so special to us.”

Chris said when their kids, now 17 and 15, were younger, they enjoyed the arts and craft activities at the festival. No matter the age, the family never misses a hayride.

“We always enjoy doing that no matter how old we are,” Chris said.

The festival also has activities in Marblehead, including tours of the Marblehead Lighthouse and Wolcott House Keeper’s House. However, Chris says there’s plenty to do in Lakeside.

“We’re still guilty of this, when we get to Lakeside, we don’t leave the gates,” Chris said. “Anything Lakeside has to offer we always partake in. When the kids were younger, they loved the craft stations and decorating pumpkins. We all like getting cider, too.”

Chris grew up on Catawba Island but didn’t visit Lakeside very often. He would occasionally meet with friends at Bettinger Park to play basketball, but never took it all in. Betsey is from Athens and has been coming to Lakeside since the 1980s. Her mom was a delegate for the United Methodist Conference and the family enjoyed coming to Lakeside so much they bought a cottage at Fifth Street and Sycamore Avenue.

Chris is a Port Clinton High School graduate and went on to earn a criminal justice degree from the University of Toledo. Betsey went to Athens High School and earned a nursing degree from hometown Ohio University.

Chris and Betsey met in Lakeside in the summer of 1997 when both had seasonal jobs. Chris needed to boost his resume, so he took a security job in the park. Betsey also worked in the park at the mini golf hut. Both were still in college, but they made their long-distance relationship work and got engaged in 2000. They married in 2001, even though the wedding didn’t go as they had planned.

“We wanted to get married at Steele Memorial Bandstand, but it rained, so we had to move to an indoor venue.” Chris said.

Chris is a police officer at Maumee Bay and Betsey is a registered nurse at a Toledo-area hospital. In addition, the Langfords own the Hawaiian Ice Cart in the same park they met, which is always a cool stop on a hot day. Carson has worked at the pool and the waterfront. Makenna worked at Bluebird Cafe and the Lakeside Laundromat over last couple of years. She has also helped Bret Johnson with the buddy benches. However, both kids are involved in sports and their church, so family time at Lakeside has been slightly cut back this fall. Carson is a senior on the Clay High School soccer team and Makenna is a sophomore on the tennis team.

“With high school sports, travel teams and church events we’re swamped,” Chris said. “It’s just so hectic.”

The Langfords have become de facto travel agents for Lakeside. Many of their friends and family have taken the Langfords’ advice to visit the beautiful community, including their financial advisor. Chris tells them all the same thing: spend more than one day in Lakeside.

“You need to come up for a weekend or couple days during the week and take in all the activities and what’s available to you for your gate pass,” Chris said. “Indulge in the whole Lakeside experience. One day is just not enough time.”

Chris said the family enjoys visits to Lakeside in the fall and winter, so he’s glad to see more activities being scheduled, like concerts, movies in Orchestra Hall, art classes, festivals and a second weekend for Christmas. When their busy schedule permits, the Langfords will be there.

“I like that Lakeside is expanding and trying to bring opportunities outside the summer season,” Chris said. “We like to get together with other families that are there. We encourage other cottage owners to come back.”

Lakeside is special to Chris and Betsey because it’s where they met. Chris says there’s another thing that makes the community unique.

“Whether that be the employees, residents or the guests, I think it’s the people,” Chris said. “Another thing really cool about Lakeside is the kids. High school has its cliques, but Lakeside doesn’t. It’s all-inclusive and they all love each other. The kids hang out and it seems like they have different groups every day. They all run around together no matter what grade they’re in.”