On a quest for the per­fect burger

Es­ti­mated crowd of 24,000 filled Ham­burg streets for 14th an­nual Taste of Ham­burg- er Festival

The Hamburg Area Item - - Front Page - By Kolleen Long For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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

KOLLEEN LONG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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).

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