Akron’s National Hamburger Festival has sizzled out — apparently for good.

But other food-heavy festivals at downtown Akron’s Lock 3 — including the Rib, White and Blue and the Italian and a new Pizza Fest — are a go.

The demise of the two-day hamburger fest won’t come as a surprise to those who have been watching the Lock 3 park’s calendar and haven’t seen the festival on it.

Last spring, the festival’s organizer, Drew Cerza, said the event was taking a break for 2018 as construction downtown continued. At that time, he said the event would be back for 2019.

But with no hamburger festival on the Lock 3 calendar, I asked James Hardy, chief of staff for Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, what was up.

Hardy said attendance at the fest — which had a $5 admission — has declined over recent years. The “city ended up eating costs,” associated with the fest, which was run by a private promoter — Cerza, who organizes the annual chicken wing festival in Buffalo, N.Y.

He said the city and Cerza parted ways amicably.

“It just got to a point where it wasn’t working for him anymore” Hardy said. “And it wasn’t as cost effective for the city.”

The festival, which began in 2006, played off the contested claim that two locals, Frank and Charles Menches, invented the hamburger at the Erie County Fair in the 1880s.

Each year, a variety of food establishments threw down their best burgers, competing for such awards as Best Traditional Burger, Best Cheeseburger and Most Creative.

Attendees paid for burgers, after paying the $5 admission to help pay for festival costs and a donation to Akron Children's Hospital.

About those other foodie fests:

• The Rib, White and Blue Festival, Akron’s National Rib Festival, runs July 3-6. Admission is free. You pay for ribs. The Fourth of July fireworks display will begin at 9:45 p.m. July 4, and there will be a bonus fireworks show at about 10:15 p.m. July 6.

• The 71st annual Italian-American Festival is July 11-13. The three-day festival opens for lunch on Thursday and Friday and continues through Saturday night. Dozens of vendors of Italian food will be on hand. Admission is free.

• A Taste of Ireland is Aug. 16-17. Admission is free; you buy the food.

• Akron Pizza Fest runs Aug. 30-Sept. 1. The inaugural pizza and music festival will provide festival-goers a chance to buy sample-sized slices from eight Akron area pizzerias. Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. also will be serving beer. Tickets are $5. This event is being organized by Allen and Rick Perk, who have produced similar fests in Cleveland.

Hardy said the big Main Street reconstruction project would not move to Main in front of Lock 3 until after the Italian Festival. This means the Italian-American Festival and the Rib, White and Blue Festival will be able extend into Main Street, as they have in years past.

For the complete listing of Lock 3 events go to: www.Lock3Live.com.

 

New Cuyahoga Falls restaurant

 

Poké Fresh at Wallhaven in Akron has opened its sister restaurant this spring at the Portage Crossing development off State Road in Cuyahoga Falls.

Poké (pronounced PO-kay) is a Hawaiian dish that's something like deconstructed sushi. Poké (the word is Hawaiian for "to slice" or "to cut") bowls usually feature ahi tuna and salmon. Poké Fresh offers other proteins, including shrimp, chicken and tofu, starting with a base of rice or organic greens and adding toppings such as edamame, cucumber, pickled ginger and avocado.

The new Poké Fresh is at 2022 Portage Trail in the space previously occupied by Planet Sub. The phone is 330-217-1017

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Poké Fresh will host city and Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce officials for a ribbon cutting at noon June 6.

For a complete menu, go to www.eatpokefresh.com .

 

Book signing

 

"Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland," a new book by Fran Golden and David Molyneaux, is out from Reedy Press.

The authors will have a book signing from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Visible Voice Books at 2258 Professor Ave., in Cleveland.

The book sells for $20.95.

 

Mulit-course wine dinner

 

Papa Joe's, 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road in Akron's Merriman Valley, will present a multi-course wine dinner featuring winemaker Francesca Bonfadini at 7 p.m. June 14. Cost is $85. To reserve, call 330-923-7999.

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook.