12th Annual National Hamburger Festival Returns to Akron

Event Debuts Akron Ninja Challenge

AKRON, Ohio (Aug.2, 2017) – It was unlikely that when Akron natives Frank and Charles Menches used ground beef patties in place of the usual pork they served on their sandwiches at a fair in Hamburg, NY, that they would ever expect an entire festival dedicated to their creation more than 130 years later.

But such is the case with the 12th Annual National Hamburger Festival, which returns to Akron’s Lock 3 on Aug. 12–13.

It’s during this action-packed weekend that festivalgoers can chow down on more than 50 different kinds of hamburgers served by more than a dozen mostly independent eateries while also tipping back some delicious, craft beer.

Drawing as many as 20,000 festivalgoers and held in the very hometown of the hamburger, the weekend event is presented by the City of Akron and sponsored by Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. The festival supports Akron Children’s Hospital.

“In addition to featuring some incredibly popular live country bands this year, we’re thrilled to debut the first-ever Akron Ninja Challenge,” Drew Cerza, festival founder, said. “Both offerings—combined with an awesome line-up of burgers and beer—means the festival is shaping up to be one of our most popular.”

On top of that, the festival will continue to offer a full weekend of hamburger-inspired antics ranging from “bobbing for burgers” to the crowning of the Burger Queen.

“At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the burgers. Last year, we made the mindful decision to ensure that most of our hamburger vendors are independently owned and operated. And, we’ll continue that practice this year,” Cerza said. “It’s just a reflection of our commitment to supporting local businesses here in the Akron-Canton area.”

For a complete list of food vendors, click here.



New for 2017, the National Hamburger Festival will debut the inaugural Akron Ninja Challenge all weekend.

This unique five-obstacle course features quad steps, dancing stones, feeter totter, ring rush and the infamous warped wall—all of which are based off of popular highlights and elements from the hit television show American Ninja Warrior.

The show, which airs all around the globe, features elite athletes who challenge themselves and others to some rather unusual obstacle courses that require athleticism, strength, flexibly and agility.

In attendance will be the popular ninja competitor James Wilson, who is currently on the NBC-TV show and is based out of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Patrick Hall, a two-time contestant on the NBC show and successful owner of Hybrid Ninja Fitness in Buffalo, NY, leads the course.

Open runs are available for men, women and children of all ages. Advanced tickets are now on sale for single runs for just $5 (does not include festival admission). Tickets are now available here.



This year’s live music offerings focus around one of the nation’s most popular genres: country. From local acts with massive followings to a CMA-recognized artist, Lock 3 will be jamming.

The Buck Naked Band | Saturday, Aug. 12 | 8:30 p.m.

The signature live performance on Saturday night will be by one of Northeast Ohio’s favorite country bands, The Buck Naked Band. The country band, which has been kickin’ it since 2011, combines modern country, rock and roll, and some funk along the way.

Justin Fabus | Saturday, Aug. 12 | 4 p.m.

A city-kid with some serious chops for country music? That’s Justin Fabus, a Pittsburgh native with a big following. In December 2016 he become a member of the CMA. Earlier this year, he was selected as a 2017 “CMA Emerging Artist” and performed at the 2017 CMA Fest.

Shooter Sharp & The Shootouts | Saturday, Aug. 12 | 2 p.m.

Led by local Akronite Ryan Humbert, Shooter Sharp & The Shootouts are a collection of incredible musicians who perform an old-school style of country music made famous by the likes of Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams and others.

Then, the music continues on Aug. 13 with a great line-up of local blues bands including The Rhythm Syndicate at 12 p.m. and The King Bees at 3:30 p.m.



Creating the ultimate cataclysmic taste combination, the Buckeye Brewfest returns for its second year during the festival on Sunday, Aug. 13.

The one-day brewfest, which is included in the cost of admission to the National Hamburger Festival, features dozens of beers from more than 10 craft breweries. Guests ages 21 and older can enjoy 6-oz. and 12-oz. beer servings.





Drawing on the successes of the last decade, the 12th Annual National Hamburger Festival returns with some old favorites, too.

The hunger for chargrilled glory is the spark behind the National Hamburger Cook-Off. Participating restaurants vie for bragging rights in four different categories of best burger including: traditional, creative, cheeseburger and toppings/special sauce.

Festivalgoers can take a break from the noshing to watch as goggle-adorned enthusiasts go “Bobbing for Burgers,” in which they dive head-first into a kiddy pool filled with ketchup to fish for burger patties.

Of course, what would a food festival be without some competitive eating? The Amateur Hamburger Eating Contest features eight local eaters competing to consume the most one-pound burgers in just 10 minutes.

During the fest, the 2017 National Hamburger Festival Queen will be crowned—a tradition 11 years strong. Adding to that excitement is the Baby Burger Contest. Contestants (ages 1–6) can showcase their National Hamburger Festival and/or Akron pride. Kids can show their spirit in anyway, whether that’s sporting a hamburger costume or showing up dressed as Zippy himself.

Admission to the National Hamburger Festival is $5. Children under eight years old are admitted free.



Downtown Akron will be abuzz with activity all weekend long. During the National Hamburger Festival—located just steps from Canal Park—the Akron RubberDucks will take on the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Aug. 12 (7:05pm game time) and Aug. 13 (2:05pm game time). Ticketholders to these games can present their ticket or ticket stub for FREE admission to the National Hamburger Festival on game day!






ABOUT THE NATIONAL HAMBURGER FESTIVAL: Featuring more than a dozen eateries serving up 50 different styles of burgers, the National Hamburger Festival takes place at Lock 3 Park in Akron, Ohio Aug. 12-13. The event also features activities and live entertainment. To learn more about the National Hamburger Festival, visit www.hamburgerfestival.com. Or, follow along at @HamburgerFest and www.facebook.com/NationalHamburgerFestival.

 The Hamburger’s Hometown: Legend has it that it was two brothers from Akron, Ohio who created the hamburger back in 1885. On the final day of the New York State Fair in Hamburg, NY, Akron natives Frank and Charles Menches ran out of pork for the sandwiches they were vending from their concession booth. Thankfully, the pair found some ground beef, as well as a myriad of other ingredients, to create one of America’s most iconic foods – the hamburger.