The Hamburg Area Item - - Lo­cal News -

the friendly pigs; they also filled the grassy area out­side the Ham­burg Post Of­fice to par­tic­i­pate in a cow-dec­o­rat­ing con­test. For $ 5, chil­dren pur­chased a wooden cow and dec­o­rated it with their choice of paint, sparkles and other sup­plies on hand. Vol­un­teers staffing this con­test in­cluded Alexi Madara, Pe­tra Martin and Paiton Al­brecht.

Madara and Al­brecht are both high school­ers and can use Ham­burg- er Fest hours to­ward their re­quired com­mu­nity ser­vice re­quire­ment. How­ever, both agreed that the work was en­joy­able.

“I love hang­ing out with the kids,” Al­brecht said as she watched over the young­sters, “and I love help­ing with the com­mu­nity. It’s a great com­mu­nity we have here.”

“It’s fun and a re­ally nice at­mos­phere,” Madara added.

Martin is a mem­ber of the Ham­burg Area Arts As­so­ci­a­tion, which spon­sors the cow- dec­o­rat­ing con­test.

“I think it’s fabulous,” she said. “The kids are do­ing a fabulous job. It makes me want to paint a cow!”

This year’s first- place win­ners in­cluded Michael Bray ( 2- 4 cat­e­gory), Ge­naro Garipoli ( ages 5- 7), Justin Riegel ( ages 8- 10), Hai­ley Koller ( ages 11 and up) and Nathan Price ( fam­ily cat­e­gory).

At the Ham­burg Strand on Fourth Street, peo­ple were in­vited to “Smooch a Pooch” for a dol­lar to ben­e­fit the sin­gle- screen his­toric theater. Sev­eral dogs worked the event, in­clud­ing a sweet- tem­pered golden re­triever, Buddy, owned by Lind­say Adam and Chris Rabold.

Stephanie Adam, Strand Theater co­or­di­na­tor, was thrilled with the new “kiss­ing booth” at the stand, which was built by Ham­burg Area High School stu­dents and fea­tured a sign cre­ated by lo­cal printshop Be­sto­nium.

“It’s re­ally good,” she said of the dis­play, “and it’s made a dif­fer­ence. We’ve done this for three years, and we’re see­ing more peo­ple, get­ting more at­ten­tion, this year.”

Ham­burg streets were also filled with lo­cal ar­ti­sans. Keena Shaf­fer, a Ham­burg res­i­dent, was a first time par­tic­i­pant. Her stand, Keena Alyce de­signs, fea­tured beau­ti­fully- let­tered state­ments and say­ings on rus­tic wooden shapes.

Artists and mar­ried cou­ple Jay and Martha Ressler, also of Ham­burg, have been at the fes­ti­val for four years. They share a booth, with Jay’s pho­to­graphs dis­played on one side and Martha’s art quilts on the other.

“There’s al­ways in­ter­est in our art­work,” Martha said, then laughed, “but a lot more in­ter­est in the burg­ers. It’s al­ways a fun show.”

Chrissy Mayer, vis­it­ing the fes­ti­val from Wells­boro, was a first- time vis­i­tor to Ham­burg- er Fest, which her fam­ily de­cided to at­tend with in- laws who live in the Ham­burg area.

“I want to try the Os­car,” she said, not­ing that burg­ers were next on their list. “It has lob­ster and as­para­gus.”

The Taste of Ham­burg- er Fes­ti­val is or­ga­nized by Our Town Foun­da­tion, 335 State Street, Ham­burg, and OTF’s small but ded­i­cated staff re­quires the help of an army of vol­un­teers to pull off the event.

Work be­gan in earnest on Fri­day, when the streets of down­town Ham­burg were filled with teens wear­ing orange tees. The young peo­ple were mem­bers of the Ham­burg Area High School Wilder­ness Club, led by teach­ers Ben­jamin Het­rich and Justin Brown. This is the third year the club has been in­volved, and this year 45 mem­bers prepped the streets for the fes­ti­val the day be­fore and worked as go­phers dur­ing the event, key in help­ing things run smoothly.

“We be­lieve that school or­ga­ni­za­tions should be re­spon­si­ble for giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity in any way pos­si­ble,” Brown said. “It helps our kids build a con­nec­tion to the com­mu­nity... We felt it was im­por­tant for them to re­al­ize all the time and ef­fort vol­un­teers put in to make th­ese events pos­si­ble.”

Deena Ker­sh­ner, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Our Town Foun­da­tion, felt that the event went well, con­sid­er­ing the fore­cast. Cloudy skies and the threat of rain kept some peo­ple way, but streets were still busy at this year’s Ham­burger Fest, es­pe­cially in the early hours.

“We were lucky that it didn’t pour in the morn­ing. It was 3 o’clock be­fore we saw the down­pour,” Ker­sh­ner said. “Over­all I was sat­is­fied with the crowds, but it was only about 60 per­cent com­pared to last year.”

In 2016, the weather con­di­tions were sunny and crowd es­ti­mates reached 40,000. Ker­sh­ner said that in the 14 years for the fes­ti­val, this is the sec­ond time rain in­ter­fered with crowds. Still, she laughed remembering when steady rain did fi­nally de­scend on Satur­day.

“I thought it was re­ally neat that so many peo­ple brought um­brel­las,” Ker­sh­ner said, and “even once it started rain­ing peo­ple stuck around in the en­ter­tain­ment ar­eas.”

The re­main­ing crowds barely paused, sim­ply hoist­ing um­brel­las or pulling up hoods be­fore con­tin­u­ing their quest for the per­fect burger.

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