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Where else can people chow down on more than 50 different kinds of hamburgers served by 20 independent eateries while tipping back some delicious, craft beer?
That's at the 11th Annual National Hamburger Festival, which returns to Akron's Lock 3 on Aug. 13 and 14.
Drawing more than 20,000 festivalgoers in the very hometown of the hamburger, the weekend event is presented by the City of Akron and sponsored by Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. The festival supports Akron Children's Hospital.
"Between the increased economic growth in the city to the star power emanating from hometown hero Lebron James, we're seeing a huge uptick in Akron pride," Drew Cerza, festival founder, said. "So, this year, the National Hamburger Festival is really focused on celebrating Akron and all of Ohio by showcasing independent eateries and locally brewed craft beer."
In 2016, all of the festival's hamburgers will be served-up by independently owned and operated eateries ranging from perennial favorite Menches Bros. to the new-school food truck Square Scullery.
NEW! BUCKEYE BREWFEST
Creating the ultimate cataclysmic taste combination, the National Hamburger Festival is set to debut the all-new Buckeye Brewfest during the festival on Sunday, Aug. 14.
The one-day brewfest, which is included in the cost of admission to the National Hamburger Festival, will feature dozens of beers from more than 10 Ohio-based breweries. Guests ages 21 and older can enjoy 6-oz. and 12-oz. beer servings.
"Ohio brews a whopping 1.38 million barrels of beer every year from its more than 170 craft breweries across the state," Cerza said. "There's no question that Ohioans love their beer--and, of course, burgers, too."
Festivalgoers will find beers from Akron (Thirsty Dog Brewing Co., Ohio Brewing Company), Cleveland (Buckeye Brewing Co., Great Lakes Brewing Company, Spider Monkey, Griffin Cider Works, Market Garden Brewery), Columbus (Columbus Brewing Company), Cincinnati (Moerlein Lagers & Ales, Mt. Carmel Brewing Company) and Medina (Lager Heads Brewing Co.).
In addition to Ohio-based breweries, festivalgoers can try additional craft beers from around the country all weekend including Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Royal Nektar (Chippewa Falls, WI); Shiner Beer's Wicked Ram IPA and Prickly Pear (Shiner, TX); Fireman's Brew Blonde, Brunette and Redhead (Canoga Park, CA); and select beers from Horny Goat Brewing Company (Milwaukee, WI).
Drawing on the successes of the last decade, the 11th Annual National Hamburger Festival returns with some old favorites, too.
The hunger for chargrilled glory is the spark behind the National Hamburger Cook-Off. Participating restaurants vie for bragging rights in four different categories of best burger including: traditional, creative, cheeseburger and toppings/special sauce.
Festivalgoers can take a break from the noshing to watch as goggle-adorned enthusiasts go "Bobbing for Burgers," in which they dive head-first into a kiddy pool filled with ketchup to fish for burger patties.
Of course, what would a food festival be without some competitive eating? The Ohio Hamburger Eating Championship features eight local eaters competing to consume the most one-pound burgers in just 10 minutes.
During the fest, the 2016 National Hamburger Festival Queen will be crowned--a tradition 10 years strong.
Adding to that excitement is the newly revamped Baby Burger Contest. Traditionally a pageant-style competition, the new version will have contestants (ages 1-6) showcasing their National Hamburger Festival and/or Akron pride. Kids can show their spirit in anyway, whether that's sporting a hamburger costume or showing up dressed as Zippy himself.
Numerous bands and musical artists will perform throughout the weekend with a mash-up of blues, jazz and local singer/songwriters. The headlining band, which performs on Saturday night, is Fleetwood Mac Mania, A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac .