AKRON, Ohio (August 15, 2012) – The City of Akron invites the nation to come back for the Seventh Annual National Hamburger Festival presented by the City of Akron and Yancey’s Fancy Artisan Cheese Company. After drawing more than 20,000 people last year, the fun, food and friendly competition will resume at Lock 3 on Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19, complete with live music and quirky burger-themed contests. Admission is just $5 with kids under 48” admitted free. The festival supports Akron Children’s Hospital.
This year professional eater Sonya Thomas, aka The Black Widow, will be at the festival to compete in the United States Professional Hamburger Eating Championship on Sunday at 3:30. The Major League Eating sanctioned event will feature Thomas along with other professional eaters, such as Eric “Badlands” Booker and Brian Subich, who will all stretch their stomachs to eat the most hamburgers in ten minutes.
Akron Firefighter Matt Askea will also be competing in the eating competition against the professionals. Askea won the amateur hamburger eating competition last year and will have the opportunity to eat alongside the professionals and defend his title. Askea is a firefighter at Firehouse #3 in Akron.
This year’s presenting sponsor, Yancey’s Fancy Artisan Cheese Company will have a large booth selling four different styles of cheeseburgers including: Jalapeno Cayenne Burger, C Bacon Horseradish Cheddar Burger, Smoked Gouda Burger and Steakhouse Onion Cheddar Burger. “We are proud to be the official cheese of the National Hamburger Festival,” said Mike Wimble, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Yancey’s. “Yancey’s Fancy has many great flavors to offer and we want to let the public see for themselves our wild sliders! Yancey’s Fancy Artisan Cheese is also sponsoring the Cheesiest Couple contest and the Cheesy Dance-Off contest at the festival.
Akron is the home of Frank and Charles Menches, who according to local lore invented the hamburger sandwich at the New York State Fair in 1885. Fueled by controversy among four cities who all claim to have invented the hamburger, a mock trial coined the “Hamburger Hearings,” was held the first year of the festival and resulted in a hung jury.
Still, the hunger for char-grilled glory pervades far beyond the inventors’ rivalry. Restaurants will vie for bragging rights in four different categories of the National Burger Cook-Off as 15 eateries will serve over 30 different varieties of burgers. The festival website, www.hamburgerfestival.com has a complete listing of the participating restaurants.
The food truck craze will also be part of the festival as Hodge Podge, Krav, MotorMouth and Jibara join this year’s line-up. All the food trucks will be serving burgers and other favorites that they are known for on the streets of Akron and all of Northeast Ohio.
On Saturday, things will really get messy as three goggle-adorned enthusiasts go “Bobbing for Burgers,” in which the contestants seek foam hamburger patties in a kiddy pool filled with ketchup. A new Queen will be crowned at the Hamburger Festival Queen Pageant and the crowd will get a good laugh during the festival’s first Cheesy Dance-off.
Sonya Thomas will take on a team of local media personalities at 6:30 on Saturday night in a 5 minute hamburger eating contest as a warm up to the championship the next day.
On Sunday, new this year is the Fire and Vice Hamburger Throwdown. The competition features the Akron Fire Department versus the Akron Police Department in three events: hamburger eating, a burger cook-off and “bobbing for burgers.”
The Amateur Burger Eating Championship will also be held again as we see which of the eaters can stomach the competition.
The competitive spirit will continue with the Baby Burger Contest followed by he Yancey’s Fancy Cheesiest Couple Contest which has couples competing against each other by answering trivia questions and doing silly challenges in the hopes of being crowned the Cheesiest Couple of the festival.
The festival will feature live music. Saturday afternoon Alex Bevan will entertain the festival crowd with a wide variety of music from folk to rock. The Akron Steel Drum Band will be performing in the early evening hours followed by a Saturday night Jimmy Buffett Tribute with Changes in Latitude as they roll into Akron for a tropical performance. Nationally acclaimed Quiz Master, Dennis George will entertain all weekend with shows throughout both days.
“We are thrilled to have the National Hamburger Festival return to Akron for its seventh year,” said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. “The outcome of the Hamburger Hearings’ notwithstanding, we are the City of Invention, and that includes the invention of the hamburger. We want visitors to sample this delicious event AND our city.”
In addition to the more than 30 different hamburger varieties from 17 eateries, there will be other Akron-favorite foods, served by restaurants set up on Main Street adjacent to Lock 3. There will be plenty of activities for children as well, with sporting activities in the Kid Zone, sponsored by i9 Sports.
“Northeast Ohio is the perfect place for this great national festival,” said Drew Cerza, founder of the event and president/CEO of Just Wing It Productions. He cited Akron’s sense of Americana and housing of the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, branding the city the “Hamburger Capital of the World. Also, great attractions in the Cleveland area like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame make the festival a great road trip for out of town guests.”