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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Prolific plant gets festival in Peninsula

4/18/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Ramps grow throughout the area and can be used to add flavor to many dishes.
Photo courtesy of Diane Seskes
PENINSULA — Ramps are rampant in the Cuyahoga Valley. So why not hold a festival in their honor?

That’s what Diane Seskes, of Peninsula, said she and some other local residents thought.

The plant, which grows throughout the area in spring, is also known as wild leeks, ramson or its technical name, allium tricoccum … and sometimes just “little stinkers,” Seskes said.

Seskes’ friend Don Carroll and a group of other local men, including Peninsula Mayor Doug Mayer, head out to harvest ramps during the spring each year on Sundays, she said.

“They sit around and cook with ramps and try different recipes,” she said.

The group has even traveled to festivals in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where the lowly crop has been celebrated for years, Seskes said.

That gave them the idea to do something locally.

“We’re surrounded by ramps,” Seskes said. “In the Cuyahoga Valley, in Hinckley, in Bedford — they’re all over the place. Let’s have our own festival so we don’t have to go away.”

The result is Ramp Up Peninsula, a one-day event taking place April 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Brandy-Wine-Bar on Par 3 at Brandywine Country Club, 5555 Akron-Peninsula Road.

Seskes said the day will feature ramp-based foods from several vendors — including ramp pierogis, ramp bread, ramp pesto and a burrito with ramp salsa. Attendees also can buy fresh ramps to try at home.

“It’s a short season — just about two months, depending on the weather,” Seskes said. “This was poor people’s food, Appalachian food. Now you have to go to specialty markets to find them.”

The green has an oniony-garlicky taste and is a great way to add flavor to dishes, Seskes said.

The festival also will include presentations on foraging for ramps and other edibles and the regulations in places like the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that affect the practice.

Artisans will be on hand with booths of their wares, and musicians Jon Mosey, Mike Lenz and John DiAlessandro will perform throughout the day. Beer, wine and drinks will be for sale at the bar.

Seskes said the Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the festival, and hopes are already high to have it become an annual event.

“We’ve had quite a few people who said, ‘I love ramps and I want to be there next year,’” she said. “We’re really excited about it.”

Admission is $3, but free for children 12 and younger. Parking is free. For more information, go to the Ramp Up Peninsula page on Facebook or www.explorepeninsula.com.

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