Photos by OHventures
Apparently, Akron, Ohio claims to be the birthplace of the world's very first hamburger. As the story goes, Charles and Frank Menches invented the first hamburger and showcased it at the 1892 Summit County Fair. After doing just a little bit of my own research (AKA Wikipedia), I found that the history of the origin of the hamburger is a cloudy one indeed. Others claim the first hamburger to have come from Connecticut, Germany, Texas and Oklahoma (to name a few).
Despite all of these various claims, Akron most certainly takes pride in the Menches Brothers, and for nearly the past decade, it has celebrated with the National Hamburger Festival. This year, the 9th annual event took place on Saturday August 9 and Sunday August 10. I decided to check it out for myself. So, after running my buns off in the Warrior Dash on Saturday morning, I had worked up quite an appetite and headed to the festival that afternoon (after washing off all of the mud of course).
The streets of Akron were lined with dozens of street vendors ready to feed the throng of hungry fair-goers. Admission to the festival was just $5, with a separate tent set aside to purchase food tickets. There were a ton of places to spend those food tickets, it was hard to decide where to begin!
Food trucks such as Spinelli's Food Truck and the Green Machine Food Truck joined tents from local restaurants such as The Game Grill + Bar (Akron), Menches Brothers (Uniontown), Legends Sports Pub (Green), Smoke: The Burger Joint (North Canton), Sammies Bar & Grill (Tallmadge), and Bob's Hamburg (Akron), all serving up their tasty hamburgers! I devoured a "chiles con queso" burger from the Green Machine Food Truck as well as a stack of hefty onion rings from Spinelli's.
There were also some chain establishments offering burgers, such as Max & Erma's and White Castle (both of which started in Ohio, at the very least). There were also some non-burger food options including Stray Dog Cart, Retro Dog (Cuyahoga Falls), Quaker Funnel Cakes, and Backyard Kettle Korn (Valley City).
Additionally, beer, specialty juices, lemon shakes, and wine were all availabe alongside the yummy eats. Non-food businesses such as Tubbs Chiropractic, The University of Akron, and the Akron Beacon Journal were on site as well. Plus, live entertainment at the Lock 3 main stage went late into the evening, with plenty of fun activities for the kids (such as bungee trampolines and a caterpillar fun house) and adults (such as the hamburger eating contest and bobbing for burgers contest).
With all of this, it's no wonder this festival was voted as one of PARADE Magazine's Top 50 Food Festivals in America.