On a quest for the perfect burger
Estimated crowd of 24,000 filled Hamburg streets for 14th annual Taste of Hamburg- er Festival
Gray skies were no competition for the smell of frying meat, as an estimated crowd of 24,000 filled blocked- off sections of Hamburg Sept. 2.
Hungry guests were ready for the vendors packing block after block of the small town for the Taste of Hamburg- er Festival, now in its 14th year.
Children danced to live polka music. Artisans displayed painting, jewelry and more while vendors hawked smoothies with trendy ingredients, and dogs tugged on leashes to get a closer sniff. Patrons browsed displays of hot sauces or condiment caddies shaped like min-
iature picnic tables.
And the burgers! Dozens of stands - represented by brick- and- morter businesses, community organizations like churches and scout troops, and mobile food trucks - offered tempting creations for those with an appetite. Classics like bacon cheeseburgers were available, but the adventurous tried toppings like seafood, bacon- tomato jam or kimchee or themed burgers like the shepherd’s pie version.
Guests vote each year on the People’s Choice award, and many licked grease off fingers before filling out paper ballots. For 2017, the coveted award went to Deitsch Eck Restaurant, Lenhartsville. Second went to Uncle Paul’s Stuffed Pretzels, Hamburg, third to Salem Church, Lenhartsville, and fourth to Backwoods Brothers Authentic Texas Cuisine, Hamburg.
Deitsch Eck is often the talk of the festival, especially their “Luther,” a ba- con cheeseburger served on a glazed- doughnut “roll.” To prepare for the festival, the restaurant stocks 2,300 burgers plus 105 pounds of cheese, 100 pounds of bacon, 800 rolls and 1,500 doughnuts. The pastries are fresh made by DutchMaid Bakery of Temple, and the quarter- pound patties are from Deitrich’s Meats, Krumsville.
Lines at the Deitsch Eck stand are long, but move quickly. Kayla LaPearl, Hamburg, tried the Luther.
“It’s delicious,” she said after her first bite. “The sweet and the salty complement each other.”
Judges award prizes in additional categories. Restaurant winners were Bull and Bear for best overall, plus taste and originality and Kooper’s Chowhound for best appearance. In the organization category, Christ Evangelical Free Church won best overall plus best taste. Christ Church tied with Salem Church for originality; Salem also won best appearance.
The third category was mobile/ food trailer, and winners were Uncle Paul’s Stuffed Pretzels for best overall plus taste and originality and Blazing Swine for best appearance. Video Burgers won the “Newbie” burger award.
Patrons entered a variety of contests, ranging from races to eating to art.
Professional Hamburger Eating Contest 1st place winner Bob “Notorious B. O. B.” Shoudt ate 13 ½ burgers. Amateur Hamburger Eating Contest 1st place team Banana Split members were Andrew Maoury, Brett Cooper, and Troye Cooper.
Contestants in the Taste of Hamburg- er Fest Mooing Contest laughed their way through the friendly competition, which is broadcast and sponsored by radio station WEEU. This year’s winners were Shawn Peppiatt, first place; Henry Seidel, second; and Mike Berger, third.
Blue Mountain Wildlife sponsors the popular “Dine and Dash” at the beginning of the festival. Runners gather at the west end of town to down a burger, run a mile along the Schuylkill River, eat a second burger, and run back. Burgers are donated by local restaurants Russo’s Pizza and Westy’s Bar and Grill.
Gregg Adams, director and secretary of the Blue Mountain board, and Amy Browder, volunteer coordinator for races, said they saw 34 runners in this year’s race, which has been a part of the festival since 2012.
“We have people come back every year,” Browder said, including those wearing bright costumes or runners with dogs on a leash.
“We had 38 run last year,” Adams said, “and we thought the weather might hurt us this year, but it didn’t really.”
Dine and Dash winners included Andrew Zeamer winning first overall man, Veronica Shrack winning first overall woman, Lizzie Batman Schwinger winning fastest female under 15, John Greeley ( male 1639), Erika Wood ( female 16- 39), Jeffrey Hammer ( male 40 and up) and Jennifer Simpson ( female 40 and up). Tania Wargo won best costume, Ryan Witman won best dog and the Judges’ Choice went to oldest race finisher Ben Delp.
Besides burgers, guests to Hamburg- er Fest ate gourmet fries or pickles- ona- stick. Sweet temptations included pumpkin funnel cakes, Hawaiian shaved ice and hand- dipped ice cream. Volunteers scooped WayHar Farm ice cream from Bernville. Proceeds from this stand benefited the Hamburg Public Library.
“I think, considering the weather and the temperature, we’ve had a respectful number of customers so far,” Sue Leiby, a first- time volunteer, said midway through the day. “We had a through- hiker who came down the trail from Maine stop by earlier.”
Belinda Kemper volunteered with the Pig Placement Network stand. She brought with her Ricky and PigPig, animals she adopted through the organization she joined 17 years ago. Their display also included colorful framed artwork, which are created by the pigs.
Children enjoyed petting
Contestants in the Taste of Hamburg- er Fest Mooing contest laugh their way through the friendly competition, which is broadcast and sponsored by radio station WEEU. This years winners were Shawn Peppiatt ( first), Henry Seidel ( second) and Mike Berger ( third).