Quick n’ Dirty Guide to the 2015 National Hamburger Festival in Akron

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years already. Where has the time gone? How many tons of hamburgers have we devoured? All that melty cheese, the fries… Hmmmm. There’s a rebellion going on around the country, pushback against the factory line fast food burger. Just as we’ve tuned in as a nation to small batch liquor, gourmet cupcakes and coffee, candied bacon and microbrew beer, we want the same attention, love and craft to go into each delicious bite—whether your patty is beef or vegan, your buns tradition or artisan. Boring won’t do and it’s become the craze for hamburgers. Wild toppings. Specialty and custom blends of meat. Chef-inspired recipes. That spirit—the one gripping America now—was alive and well in Akron, Ohio in 2005 when Drew Cerza, at Coondog’s urging and with the city of Akron’s help (led by, of course, Dave Lieberth), launched the National Hamburger Festival here, the (disputed) birthplace of the beloved burger. Use our “Quick n’ Dirty” guide to help you navigate the tastiest weekend of the year. Make sure you check out the preview of their first annual Craft Beer & Indie Band Showcase (Sunday, August 9) on page 22 of this issue. – Chris Horne

What? 10th Annual National Hamburger Festival
When? August 8-9, 2015
Where? Lock 3 Park (200 South Main St., Akron)
Who? Drew Cerza & Just Wing It Productions
Web: HamburgerFestival.com
How much? Kids (8 and under) are FREE but it’s $5 for everyone else. Food tickets are $1 each and must be purchased at the festival.


FREE inflatables and an obstacle course for kids inside Lock 3 Park, including:
– Bungee Trampoline
– Moon Walk
– Obstacle Course
– Caterpillar Fun House


Bobbing for Burgers – Saturday at 3:30 pm
It’s just you, your mouth, a baby pool filled with ketchup and a handful of combative competitors, trying to out-do you for the title of Burger Bobbing Champ.

Amateur Hamburger Eating Contest – Saturday at 6:30 pm
Contestants are challenged to eat as many hamburgers as they can in 10 minutes. If you think you can stomach this challenge—see what we did there?—go online to register for a spot.

National Hamburger Festival Queen Pageant – Saturday at 5 pm
Single women between 15-27 years old compete in their formal attire for the prized tiara and sash then immediately get busy with their duties: Officiating the Baby Burger Contest.

The Baby Burger contest – Sunday at 12:30 pm
Open to boys and girls, this contest is all about the cute. Contestants don their Sunday best or semi-formal attire, vying for a medal, the sash and a prize pack.

Can 2014’s NHB Festival Winners repeat in 2015?

Best Traditional:
1. Sammie’s (Sammie’s Sliders)
2. Max and Erma’s (Great American)
3. Legend’s (Bulldog Burger)

Best Cheeseburger:
1. Eat’n Park (Southern BBQ Burger)
2. Martini’s (Perfect Burger)
3. Sammie’s (Heart Attack Burger)

Best Creative Burger
1. Martini’s (Johnny Applewood)
2. Smoke, The Burger Joint (Georgia Cobb Salad Burger)
3. Stray Dog (Barnyard Burger)

Best Creative Toppings
1. Smoke, The Burger Joint (Dirty Vegas)
2. Martini’s (Maui Wowwi)
3. Eat’n Park (Teriyaki Hula Turkey)

Best Healthy Burger
1. Max and Erma’s (Chipotle Black Bean Burger)
2. Smoke, The Burger Joint (Greenwich Village White Bean Burger)
3. Stray Dog (Veggie Burger)

Festival Favorite: Smoke, The Burger Joint

Festival Spirit Award: Max & Erma’s


Betty’s Bomb A Burgers
Blue Rock Cafe
Bob’s Hamburg
Cupcakes & More
French Fries & More
Fire Truck Pizza Company
The Game Grill + Bar
Honey Gourmet Ice Cream
Legends Sports Pub
Li’l Grandpa’s Kettle Corn
Martini Brothers
Max & Erma’s
Menches Brothers
Midway OH Boy
Out of the Box
The Pierogi Lady
Quaker Corp
Real Fruit LLC
Retro Dog
Sammie’s Bar and Grill
Smoke, the Burger Joint
The Stray Dog Cart

Indie Music Showcase at the National Hamburger Festival

Sponsored by The Devil Strip
Sunday, August 9 at Lock 3 ($5)
200 S Main St, Akron
1 pm – The Gage Brothers
2 pm – The Brothers’ Band
3 pm – By Light We Loom
4 pm – Goodnight Tonight
5 pm – Acid Cats

After a decade in downtown Akron, the National Hamburger Festival is proving it still has a few tricks up its sleeves. This year, organizers are introducing an indie band showcase—featuring five local, all-original acts—to perform alongside a mini-craft beer fest on Sunday, August 9 from 1 pm to 6 pm in Lock 3. Akron’s own Thirsty Dog will be joined by Lagerheads of Medina, Buckeye Brewing from Cleveland, Canton Brewing Company, Cincy’s Christian Moerlein and Mt. Carmel, also from the Queen City. It’s just $5 to hear the bands and roam Hamburger Alley, but beer samples will cost you a wee bit extra. Visit hamburgerfestival.com for details.

gagebrothersThe Gage Brothers

Ben and Zach, the oldest boys of seven children, formed The Gage Brothers in early 2014. You’ll find Zach playing guitar, banjo, mandolin or anything he can slap strings onto, while Ben is a percussionist who picked up some harmonicas that he honks on now and then. Together, they create a unique folk experience that pulls from traditional influences as well as new age folk and blues.

brothers bandThe Brothers’ Band

Roots rock band from Akron, OH playing original songs penned by four friends that happen to share a dwelling. Born out of a merger of two projects, Esau’s Brother and Fritz Pollard, The Brothers’ Band is a call to a time when creating a complex, layered, fun, rock and roll show meant calling all of your friends to join in.


by light we loomBy Light We Loom

By Light We Loom is a husband and wife team whose appetite for making and sharing music is never satisfied. After leading indie-folk band Bethesda for the better part of a decade, Shanna and Eric armed themselves with loop technology to create mysterious pop with a new and unique sound that engages the listener and beckons you to sing along.


goonight tonightGoodnight Tonight

Goodnight Tonight has already won multiple awards for their alternative rock, including Best Teen Band 2013 from Indie Music Channel. The band is led by Emily Gambone, whose powerful vocals draw comparisons to Paramore and Heart. They’ve opened for national acts including Staind and Twenty-One Pilots – don’t miss your chance to see them at Lock 3!


acid catsAcid Cats

Acid Cats is a local quintet that’s been generating buzz since they stepped on the Northeast Ohio music scene. They describe themselves as “original acidic jazz rock” – noisy, soulful funk and jazz that sets intricate melodies against heavy but agile groove.