Entertainment abounds this weekend — everything from modern dance to meat on a bun and beefcake on a stage. Here are our three top picks:
1. The National Hamburger Festival in Akron. Some of the nation’s greatest hamburgers hit the grill this weekend at Lock 3 Park in Akron, as part of the seventh annual National Hamburger Festival. At the heart of the two-day fest are competitions and contests for pros and amateurs alike. Among them you’ll find everything from a Best Burger Competition for restaurants to the ever-popular Bobbing for Burgers contest which — as you might guess — involves plucking burgers from a vat of ketchup with only your teeth. Other draws include performances by Alex Bevan, the University of Akron Steel Drum Band, and Jimmy Buffett tribute band Changes in Latitude. And what would a burger fest be without a competitive eating contest? Akron firefighter and reigning champ Matt Askea is a fan favorite, but he has some tough competition in the form of Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas.
World record holder in a dozen food categories (including fruitcake, asparagus, hard-boiled eggs, cheesecake, and chicken wings), Thomas is a formidable contender. “I’m confident because I like hamburgers,” says the petite Thomas, who earned her nickname for her ability to take down men more than twice her size. “Speed eating is more mental than physical. I have a very strong mind and I don’t like to lose.” The contest takes place Sunday at 4:30 p.m. General festival hours are noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 7 on Sunday. Get your tickets at the gate for $5; kids under 48 inches are free. The full schedule is on the website.
200 South Main St., Akron, hamburgerfestival.com
2.Thunder From Down Under at House of Blues. Cleveland. This troupe of Aussie hard bodies has been teasing the ladies for more than 20 years, with nightly performances in Vegas and touring companies that bring the buff boys to stops throughout the heartland. That includes Saturday's show at downtown’s House of Blues. If you go, performer, MC, and company manager Adam Hughes promises you will not be alone. “We have a really successful formula,” he says. “The show isn’t sleazy or tacky, and it’s not uncommon to see three generations in the audience: Grandma, mum, and then the daughter.” Doors open at 8 p.m.; the show starts at 9. Tickets range from $20 to $25. Get them at the box office, by phone, or online. Eighteen and over, please. —
308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583, houseofblues.com
3. GroundWorks Dance Theater at Cain Park. "Dance is the hidden language of the soul,” said American modern-dance pioneer Martha Graham. If that’s so, your soul should be bursting with bon mots during this weekend’s program at Cain Park’s Alma Theater. Presented by Cleveland’s GroundWorks Dance Theater, numbers include the Cleveland premiere of Brubeck, a tribute to jazz pianist Dave Brubeck by artistic director David Shimotakahara, and Current Frame, a new duet by artistic associate Amy Miller set to the music of Baroque composer Heinrich Biber. (Noted violinist Hanne-Berit Hahnemann will provide the live accompaniment.) Also on the weekend’s program: Shimotakahara’s Sweet, set to music by Bobby McFerrin, and the poetic Book of Water. Now in its 13th season, Groundworks was founded by Shimotakahara to develop and present new choreography and collaborations. Performances are at 7 Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Advance tickets are $20 to $22; wait until show day and they’ll cost you two bucks more. Snag them by phone, online, or at the Cain Park box office.
14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-371-3000, groundworksdance.org.