Microscopic molecules of scent — grilled meat and smoky flavor — travel the air across city blocks, enter my olfactory nerves, and make me hustle. My mouth waters as if Pavlov were ringing a bell in a conditioned dog’s ear. If I wasn’t hungry before, I am now, for I am entering an entire town full of sizzling, grilled burgers.
I’ve come to the “Taste of Hamburg-er Festival” in Hamburg, PA to basically eat burgers, multiple burgers, and I don’t have to feel guilty. That’s what this festival is all about! Vegetarians don’t bother; this festival will be utter torture and temptation — you may find it irresistible.
Where to Find The Best Burgers in Berks
First off, it is totally amazing to see this small town seething with over 40,000 people. Hamburg’s famous 16th annual meat fest, as it’s colloquially known, is the East Coast's Premiere Hamburger Event.
Downtown streets are closed off and vendors are scattered as organizations, businesses, and restaurants all compete to create the most tantalizing burger. Foodies vote for their favorite, and there are over twenty-five hamburger choices to pick from. There are a couple chances to take home a title, including the People’s Choice Award, voted on by festival patrons, and the Best Burger Awards, chosen by a panel of judges.
Festival Fun in Hamburg, PA
Educational Fun: Local Boy Scout Troop 184 turned this whole experience into an educational one, not only toiling to cook their best burger but also learning how to make the charcoal grills that they’re cooked on. The scouts even split their own oak wood to cook their burgers, and branded the buns with a Boy Scout emblem: it was awesome!
Great Sweets: For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a glazed donut bun enveloping a bacon-cheeseburger, created by chef and owner Steven Stetzer of Lenhartsville’s Deitsch Eck Restaurant (Pennsylvania Dutch for “Dutch Corner”). A glazed donut bun was a favorite of the late singer Luther Vandross.
All The Fun at Hamburger Fest: There’s a chili cook-off, a human moo-ing contest, a “mold a mound of meat” contest, and both a professional burger eating contest as well as an amateur eating contest.
Three separate stages entertain with near continuous music, favoring big band, country, blues, and rock. There’s art for sale, jewelry, stitchery, candles, barrel furniture, food items, and even specialty vinyl CD cases that look remarkably like California cheeseburgers!
There’s a Lot to do at the Hamburger Fest!
You can stop into the Gallery of Hamburg to see dozens of local artists’ work. You can chat at the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club’s booth to learn about places to hike in the surrounding Blue Mountain and the tri-county area. You can get your face painted or pet animals in a petting zoo! See cute, rescued pot belly pigs, or a Great Dane that you could take home with you!
You can do a moonbounce, fish at a duck pond, or play goldfish games, whether you are a little kid or a kid at heart. Passing through the crowd are jugglers, stilt walkers and strolling entertainers.
You might want to think about walking the streets multiple times yourself to build that appetite back up so you can try yet another variety of hamburger! But look out, because the longer you wait, the longer some of the lines grow at the more popular stands — hot tip, that’s a good way of judging which are the best. People return to the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival year after year and have their favorites already scoped out.
Come early. Come hungry. No, I take that back. Come starving. Even fast before you come! Bring a friend and sample one another’s choices. Variety is the spice of life, and you can even get the spicy variety of hamburger at the 2019 Taste of Hamburg-er Festival!