Burger bash

Taste of Ham­burg-er fes­ti­val set to siz­zle on Satur­day

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL P. PROSICK COPY ED­I­TOR Con­tact the writer: dprosick@re­pub­li­can­her­ald.com; 570628-6002

Whether it be be­tween crusty bread, brioche bun or dough­nuts, topped with chili, cheese, lump crab, crispy ba­con, brisket, pick­les or even piero­gies, there are a bil­lion ways to show­case the beauty of the burger — and show­cased they will be at an event in Berks County this week­end. The 15th an­nual Taste of Ham­burg-er Fes­ti­val will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Satur­day in Ham­burg, epony­mous with the city in Ger­many from which the cooked meat pat­ties get their name. The beer gar­den is open un­til 7 p.m., and the event is free and open to the pub­lic. Park­ing at the four des­ig­nated lots is $5, but it pays for a shut­tle and a fes­ti­val guide. Hand­i­cap park­ing will be be­hind the First United Church of Christ on Third Street and at the Ham­burg Field House, ac­cord­ing to Deena Ker­sh­ner, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Our Town Foun­da­tion, which or­ga­nizes the event. The event fea­tures such a va­ri­ety of burg­ers that it’s mind-bog­gling, she said. “I can’t ex­plain the dif­fer­ent kinds of burg­ers. … It’s turned into a com­pe­ti­tion where ev­ery­body tries to come up with a unique, new burger. There’s so many that I can’t re­ally say ‘wow, this is the most unique’ or ‘this is weird, you’ve got to try it,’ ” Ker­sh­ner said. “I tell ev­ery­body they need to be sure to look at the web­site be­fore they come down here, to get a game plan. Be­cause if you don’t know what burger you want and you start walk­ing from stand to stand and say ‘hmm, which one do i want?’ it’s go­ing to be over­whelm­ing.” In ad­di­tion to the 35 burger stands and many other food stands, the event also fea­tures myr­iad of­fer­ings out­side the scope of gor­man­diz­ing, in­clud­ing about 80 craft stands. There are about 200 to­tal ven­dors, com­ing from as far as Bal­ti­more, Ker­sh­ner said. New this year will be a gem-min­ing stand and a rock climb­ing wall, among other new burger ven­dors. New for the kids, the Read­ing Roy­als are bring­ing their mas­cot to join the crew of Elmo, Kevin the Min­ion and Paw Pa­trol. There is a va­ri­ety of other ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren in­clud­ing car­ni­val games, face­paint­ing, bal­loon art, sand art and a cow-dec­o­rat­ing con­test. “We give them a yard sign in the shape of a cow, and we have all the dec­o­rat­ing sup­plies and they hand-dec­o­rate th­ese lit­tle cows. That’s very pop­u­lar; we usu­ally run out of cows,” Ker­sh­ner said. The cows are then judged and rib­bons given to the win­ners. For the adults, there will also be com­pe­ti­tion. There are burger-eat­ing con­tests in ama­teur and pro­fes­sional cat­e­gories. In the ama­teur event, which is open to the pub­lic, there are 10 teams of three peo­ple — the first team to eat 10 burg­ers wins. Sign up fast, be­cause there are only 10 slots; regis­tra­tion is due by noon. For the pro­fes­sion­als, how­ever, the per­son who eats the most burg­ers in 10 min­utes wins. “The pro­fes­sion­als that come, they en­ter com­pe­ti­tion through­out the U.S.,” Ker­sh­ner said. “Th­ese are def­i­nitely pro­fes­sional eaters.” To ac­com­pany the sound of burg­ers siz­zling will be bands on five dif­fer­ent stages vy­ing for your ears. The stages are bro­ken up by genre, with acts by solo acous­tic mu­si­cians, coun­try mu­sic, folk/amer­i­can, blues and clas­sic rock. The Happy Boom­badears will also be per­form­ing, Ker­sh­ner said. “We ba­si­cally close off the whole down­town and have one big party in the street,” Ker­sh­ner said, adding that eight blocks are to­tally filled in down­town Ham­burg. “You need to come. It is a one-day ex­pe­ri­ence that you won’t for­get. From a vis­i­tor stand­point, there’s lots of things to do. Get here early, be hun­gry, be pre­pared to be on the go!” For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the Taste of Ham­burg-er web­site at www.tas­te­ofham­burger.com or call Our Town Foun­da­tion at 610-562-3106.

FILE PHOTO

Linda Alspach, Ham­burg, buys french fries from Krys­tal Sweitzer of Bricker’s at last year’s Taste of Ham­burg-er Fes­ti­val. This year’s event will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Satur­day in Ham­burg.

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