This is one tasty week in Akron as the annual Taste of Akron celebration of local restaurants and food trucks expands to two nights.
Yes — as we’ve previously reported — the event designed to showcase local eats has become so popular, the city has decided to spread the food love over two nights.
On Thursday, local restaurants and other food establishments will set up at Hardesty Park in Akron’s Wallhaven neighborhood.
On Friday, more than a dozen food trucks will roll in to the park — for what has been dubbed Taste of Akron Take Two.
Previously, food trucks and restaurants offered samples on the same evening at the city-organized event. See below for lists of food purveyors on each night.
Hours will be 6 to 10 p.m. both nights.
As in earlier years, patrons will buy tickets for $2 each, and food samples — Thursday and Friday night — will cost one, two or three tickets. Food ticket sales will begin at 6 p.m. each night. (Folks typically start lining up early.)
On Friday, wine and local craft beer samples will be available from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in a beer and wine tasting tent. Guests will receive a tasting cup and 10 drink tickets for a separate $20 entry fee.
This is the 13th year for the Taste of Akron, which is the lead-in to the annual Akron Arts Expo weekend at Hardesty Park. The Arts Expo and Taste of Akron are organized by the city of Akron.
Parking is free for the Taste of Akron and the Arts Expo. A free shuttle service will be available from a parking area at 1795 W. Market St. (the building that houses the WAKR/WONE/WQMX radio stations). Cash, VISA and MasterCard will be accepted. (The event is sponsored this year by American Wood Reface.)
For more information on Taste of Akron and the Arts Expo, go to www.akronartsexpo.org.
OK, enough of that stuff, which eateries and food trucks are participating?
Laurie Chenevey, community event coordinator for the city, supplied us with the lineup, including some newbies, for each night.
You’ll notice that a few purveyors are participating both nights. They include Compass Coffee in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood and Square Scullery, which has a food truck and a “ghost kitchen” in Highland Square, where food for pick-up and delivery is prepared.
Thursday (restaurants and other establishments): Akron Pickle, Bomba Tacos & Rum, Bombay Grill, Breakfast Box, Chocolates by Erin, Compass Coffee, Corelife Eatery, Crave Cantina, Crave in downtown Akron, D’Agnese’s Italian restaurant on White Pond, Dewey’s Pizza, Lock 15 Brewing Co., Ms. Julies’ Kitchen, Norka Beverage, Old Carolina Barbecue, Papa Gyros, Papa John’s pizza, Pierogi Lady, Pots and Pans Jamaican Cuisine, Saffron Patch in Merriman Valley, Spaghetti Warehouse, Square Scullery, Stray Dog Café, Social 8 and Totally Cooked Catering. Yeah, there are some chains, but most of the participants are locally owned.
Friday (food trucks): Barrio Taco Truck, Beachcomber, Compass Coffee, Cookery Truck, Donut Lab, Fat Freddie’s BBQ, Funky Trucketeria, Lote’s Latin Street Corn, Norka Beverage, Shaboys, Slammer’s Patty Wagon, Smash Time, Stray Dog Cart, Square Scullery, A Twist of Leona and Wholly Frijoles Mexican.
Pizza shop samples
The locally owned East of Chicago Pizza at 1650 West Market St. in Wallhaven will celebrate six years in business from Thursday through Saturday, offering specials, giveaways and more.
The store, part of the Lima-based chain, is owned and operated by franchisees husband and wife Matt and Toni Craig, both of whom are graduates of the University of Akron. They also own a second location at 625 Grant St. in Akron that celebrated its first year this past March.
On Thursday, the pizza joint will host a Meet & Eat from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. People can stop in and sample items from the restaurant's menu. Giveaways and other activities will be offered.
Specials on some of the establishment's most popular items will be offered over the three days, including $6 large, one-topping pizzas.
Sweet Corn Festival
The Kent Lions Sweet Corn Festival at Beckwith Orchards in Portage County’s Franklin Township is back Aug. 3-4 for a 12th year, despite the heavy rains of late spring and earlier this summer delaying planting of some Ohio sweet corn crops.
The event will run from noon to 5 p.m. both days. Admission and parking are free. You pay for the food.
The Lions will offer sausage sandwiches, hot dogs, boiled corn on the cob and beverages, while the Beckwiths will offer fresh baked pies — apple, peach and other flavors — whole or by the slice.
Beckwith Orchards, a 125-plus-year-old family owned and operated business including a farm market and bakery, plans to open for the season this Friday, offering peaches and sweet corn, among other yummies.
At the Lions event, live musical entertainment will be provided each day, along with vendors, children’s carnival games, raffles and a bake sale.
Beckwith Orchards is at at 1617 Lake Rockwell Road, off the Portage County Hike & Bike Trail.
Try Lebanese cuisine
Also early next month, the annual Lebanese Festival returns Aug. 2-3 to Our Lady of the Cedars Church, 507 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road, in Fairlawn.
Seating will be available inside and outside for the event that begins on a Friday.
The menu includes tabbouleh, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh, shawarma, falafel, lamb shank, Lebanese coffee, booza (Lebanese ice cream), baklawa (Lebanese baklava) and other Lebanese sweets. Lebanese music and dancing, hookah, kids games, raffles and more will be available. Admission is free; you pay for the food (and hookah, wine and beer and raffles).
Go to olclebanesefestival.com for more information or call the church at 330-666-3598. You can’t miss the church, look for the big red, green and white (colors of the Lebanese flag) festival signs.
Choose a Food Hero
The Summit Food Coalition, a nonprofit that seeks to increase access to healthy food, has opened its nominations for the 2019 Local Food Hero Award.
The Local Food Hero is a community member or organization that “has made a significant and positive impact on the local food system in Summit County,” according to the nonprofit.
Last year’s Local Food Hero award recipient was Julie Costell, owner of Ms. Julie’s Kitchen in Akron. The eatery, at 1809 S. Main St., south of downtown, is known for its from-scratch vegan products made from locally sourced ingredients. Ms. Julie’s also sells products at area farmers markets.
“We’re looking for champions working to ensure that our community members have access to fresh and nutritious foods,” Beth Knorr, director of the nonprofit, said in a news release.
“Who are the farmers giving new life to their soil? Who is helping their neighborhood build a sustainable community garden? What restaurant or entrepreneur is dedicated to sourcing their ingredients from local producers? These are the leaders we want to celebrate,” she said.
This third annual Local Food Hero award recipient will be recognized during the nonprofit’s annual fundraising event, Savor the Summit, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Trailhead at Cascade Lofts event space, next to Lock 15 Brewing Co., at 21 W. North St., north of downtown Akron.
The event will include a pie auction, as well as a wine and beer pull. Donations are being accepted and sponsorships are available.
To nominate an individual or organization by Aug. 1. go to https://forms.gle/Hyvt2tWNDjR8iubUA.
Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early bird discount
Get a full pass for this year’s Shanti Hot Pepper Fest in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood by Aug. 3, and you’ll save 30 percent.
The fundraiser for the Shanti Community Farms group that works with local Bhutanese immigrants will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Patterson Park Community Center, 2018 Patterson Ave.
The full pass — which includes food and competitions/games (such as a hot pepper eating contest) — will cost $35 if you order by Aug. 3. The regular price is $50. Tickets for food only are $35, and tickets for competitions/games only are $25.
Donations are being accepted, and sponsorships are available. For more information, go to Shanti Community Farms on Facebook or the Eventbrite page at https://bit.ly/32Jiqul.