Grill for Good Saturday in Kent
Kent Jaycees hold food, entertainment event to raise money for area nonprofits
The tantalizing aroma of grilled foods emanating from gas grills, charcoal grills, smokers and several Big Green Eggs will fill downtown Kent during the second annual Grill for Good event Saturday.
The fundraiser, sponsored by the Kent Jaycees, is set for noon to 6 p.m. at the Home Savings Bank Plaza and on North Water Street, which will be closed between Main and Columbus streets. Live entertainment will take place throughout the event.
Tickets to enter the roped-off venue area are $10 (children 5 and under enter free), which entitles each ticket-holder to three “tastes” of their choice from among about 15 grilling stations.
Marilyn Sessions, who is working with the Jaycees as an event coordinator, offered a definition of “a taste” as “a small sandwich or a bone or two of ribs. Each taste will be a pretty generous amount of food. No one will leave hungry.”
Additional tastes can be purchased for $2 each or three for $5. Soft drinks and water will be sold for $1 each, and beer on tap donated by the Water Street Tavern in Kent and Superior Beverage Group of Akron will be $2 each.
“Last year the Jaycees gave Coleman and Family & Community Services each $1,000 from the event. This year we want to double that amount for both organizations,” Sessions said.
Musical performances, funded by the The Burbick Foundation and Woodsy’s Music, will include Irish musician Donal O'Shaughnessy from noon to 2 p.m., classic rock cover band Up Till 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. and the versatile Kent-based band The Bluestones from 4 to 6 p.m.
The Grill for Good event has grown since its trial run last year. The idea was suggested by Sessions and her husband, Brian, a former Jaycee. The couple own two Big Green Eggs and enjoy traveling the country participating in EGGfests, which are venues for Big Green Egg enthusiasts to show off their barbecue talents and share techniques.
“A couple years ago we started wondering how we could combine our love of grilling with the community that we love. So last year we approached the Jaycees with this fundraising idea and a promise to help out,” Marilyn explained.
The Jaycees held their first Grill for Good over Memorial Day weekend last year, drawing about 250 visitors who sampled the fare of local “foodies” who brought their grills out for the day.
Andrew Madonio, Jaycees president, said the group knew right after last year’s successful event that it would be repeated this year.
“We didn’t really know what to expect going into it. We had grillers showing up that day that we didn’t expect, but we just welcomed them,” Madonio said. “It’s a great event because the community gets a chance to come out and enjoy some great food and listen to great music, and it allows us to give back by donating the proceeds to (local causes).”
This year’s Grill for Good is expanded to showcase the talents of local chefs and restaurants side-by-side with Kent “foodies.” Several individuals will be grilling on behalf of local organizations.
Another new feature this year will be “celebrity judging” by Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee, Mayor Jerry Fiala and Brian Rock, an assistant football coach at Kent State University. Winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m.
The winner in the professional category will receive a traveling plaque, while the non-professional winner will receive a trophy. “We’ve come a long way from last year, when the winner got a 99-cent grill brush I picked up at the last minute,” Sessions said, laughing.