Kent Jaycees to grill up fun

By Jeremy Nobile | Staff Writer Published:

Portage County foodies will dazzle palates Saturday and compete for bragging rights at downtown Kent's fifth annual Grill for Good.

Besides offering a harmony of food, drink and entertainment where amateur and professional cooks compete for top griller honors, the event also is a major fundraiser for The Coleman Foundation and Family & Community Services of Portage County.

The bulk of money raised will be split for both agencies to provide food, shelter and mental health services for local individuals. A smaller portion of proceeds also support Kent Jaycees, which is organizing the event.

The first event drew about five grillers, a couple hundred visitors and a couple thousand dollars of donations.

But thanks to growing popularity, Grill for Good has raised more than $20,000 for the Portage agencies, nearly half of which was collected at last year's event -- the largest and most successful to date, according to event co-founder Marilyn Sessions.

"The support has just been tremendous," she said, noting the Grill for Good was created to bring together passions for food and community. "We're finally realizing the dream of what we hoped this would grow to be."

The event will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday in downtown Kent on Main and Water streets.

A wristband costs $10 and includes tickets for three samples. Each ticket after that costs $1 each.

For the first time, participants can acquire an "all-you-can-eat" wristband good for unlimited samples for a donation of $100 or more.

The car cruise-in also returns this year. 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.

Meanwhile, live music begins early at 11:30 a.m. and runs through 7:30 p.m.

Event organizers have set the bar high, hoping to bring in $15,000 to benefit nonprofits this year. With sunny skies forecast, around 18 grillers and more than 1,000 visitors expected, Sessions said everyone is optimistic of reaching their goal.

Grillers are separated into foodie (amateur) and commercial (professional) categories and will be judged in the mid-afternoon.

Last year's first place foodie winner was Kent's Secret Cellar, which prepared grilled sweet corn with flavored butters.

And the first place commercial winner was Kent's Fresco Mexican Grill and Salsa Bar, which served pulled-pork tacos.

Each will return this year to protect their titles. Secret Cellar will again grill up sweet corn, while Fresco will prepare barbacoa tacos.

Some of the other item that will be available include grilled shrimp, flank steak, black-and-tan brined chicken thighs with spicy habanero pineapple sauce, chicken wings, pulled pork, beef and brussel sprout with a balsamic glaze and even grilled watermelon.

"With beer, live music, grilled meats, veggies and fruit, there's something for everybody," Sessions said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or jnobile@recordpub.com

Facebook: Jeremy Nobile, Record-Courier

Twitter: @jnobile_RPC

Band lineup:

11:30 a.m. to noon: Honey Brown Bandits

Noon to 1 p.m.: Bob Goldthwaithe

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Bluestones

3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Up 'Til 4

5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Gaetano "Tom" Letizia

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