Tuesday, August 10, 2010


After all these years living in this area, it’s hard to imagine that this is the first time I’ve attended the Hall of Fame Ribs Burnoff in Canton. I vaguely recall going downtown Canton once during the festival for another reason, but certainly didn’t get to wander the festivities.  Now that they've moved to the Stark County Fairgrounds, it's easier to park (sort of), but it's isolated from any other downtown businesses so you're there for one of two things - ribs or music - which isn't a bad choice, just limiting and certainly no way to show off the newly revitalized downtown.

Friday, at the request of my friend Sandy, I volunteered at one of the beer booths for the Burnoff. It’s also been several years since I worked a beer booth (not since WAY back during my Civic Theater volunteer days) but pulling the tap came naturally enough for this non-beer drinker.  We got paid in free beer - not such a good deal for me since I don't like the stuff but it's just as well there wasn't an option to work a wine or liquor booth, there could have been huge payoffs there!

We kept our eyes on the skies as the dark clouds rolled in hoping that there would be no repeat of the lightning strike that hit the beer trailer two days before!  The gals working that day had both been leaning on the trailer trying to stay out of the rain deluge when the lightning struck and managed to exit through both of them.  Definately not something I'd want to experience!  Interestingly enough, when the reported the strike to the local authorities, the only concern was that the truck was not smoking...hmmm, no query about how the girls did.  Not cool.

We opened the booth at 10:30am but didn’t serve our first customer till a little after 11 (it WAS, after all, a work day for most attendees). Shortly before noon a band called Them Dudes set up right across the way from us and played a host of early 70’s rock music that we sang along with during our slow times. This band, out of Dover, Ohio, plays regularly at the Cheeseburger in Paradise down behind Belden Village Westfield Mall and I can see how they’d be a hit there since they liberally sprinkle their repertoire with Jimmy Buffet tunes.

The crowd was pretty tame with the exception of a group of young men that were definately still a little worse for wear from the night before.  They were our best customers for the day and luckily we did discover that they were not driving.  They were amuzing and managed to even flirt with us old gals - made the day worth the effort!
Aside from the few rib vendors and a few slushie and funnel cake vendors, this couple were here making this lovely sand sculpture.  I didn't get to see if they used a mold to make the castle turets but after spending an hour or so molding sand for my pizza oven I have a whole new appreciation for what these artists go through!  Building sand castles as a kid was never this much work.  I wonder if these folks still feel like 4 year olds with a plastic bucket by the sea.

There was a lot of gossip around the fairgrounds about the festival itself and the fact that there were very few rib vendors there (I counted 7 in total). According to most those I spoke with who have been around the festival for many years, the number of vendors seems to be decreasing each year, especially since moving from downtown to the fairgrounds. Maybe it’s time for the Festival organizers to rethink the location and put it back downtown. Especially with all of the efforts Canton has put into the revitalization of the downtown area – it seems a more natural fit. The fairgrounds are out of the way, we ended up parking in a mud pit, and sales didn’t pick up until after work hours, sounds like a slam dunk decision to me.

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