Taste of Hamburg-er festival set to sizzle on Saturday
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.
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.