Marilyn Sessions said the Kent Jaycees' annual Grill for Good is possibly the most original cook-off in northeast Ohio.
By combining charity with a particularly unique selection of grilled goods that even includes some vegan and vegetarian-friendly options, the event has helped raise thousands of dollars for The Coleman Foundation and Family & Community Services of Portage County.
"And both of those are so important to us because they provide people with food, shelter and mental health services throughout Portage County," said Sessions, the event's co-founder. "One-hundred percent of the proceeds go to local charity, and we've helped raise over $11,000 so far. That feels pretty good."
The fourth annual Grill for Good event will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday in downtown Kent with vendors setting up around the intersection of Main and Water streets.
The first Grill for Good in 2010 drew about five grillers and a couple hundred visitors.
This year's event features 18 professional and amateur cooks, and Sessions estimates upward of 1,000 people will come out this year in light of the 800-plus turnout.
"It's really taken on a life of its own," Sessions said, noting the goal is to raise an additional $6,000 for charity this year.
Grillers are split into amateur and professional categories with a four-person panel selecting winners in each category.
Al and Pam Siciliano won the amateur's first place last year with their Italian beef sandwiches, while a grilled Atlantic salmon with crispy polenta cakes from The Fairways at Twin Lakes earned first place in the professional division.
Both return this year to defend their titles -- the Sicilianos will prepare their beef sandwiches and The Fairways at Twin Lakes will serve seared tuna with wontons.
Other items range from barbecued pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, pork steak, flank steak, tacos, root beer floats, pierogies and kielbasa, chicken wings, honey mustard chicken sandwiches, strip steak with grilled jalapenos and blue cheese, grilled peaches with rum sauce, and grilled sweet corn with flavored butters.
The selection, Sessions said, is "one-of-a-kind."
As like years past, live music will be played all day.
New this year is a free car cruise-in sponsored by Napa Auto Parts. Vehicles are directed to park in the lot adjacent to Townhall II, 155 N. Water St. Participation is free, and spots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Wristbands for "Grill for Good" cost $10 and include three "generous" samples, Sessions said. Additional tickets cost $1 each, and most portions will cost approximately three tickets.
Pop, beer and water will also be available.
Sessions encourages everyone to visit in the name of cuisine and charity to celebrate "good people, good food and good times."
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