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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Peninsula ramping up for festival, other activities

4/24/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Ramps, which grow in the area and are considered a delicacy by some, will be celebrated at the second annual Ramp Up Peninsula festival April 26.
Photo courtesy of Diane Seskes
PENINSULA — When the first-ever Ramp Up Peninsula festival took place a year ago, it didn’t seem like the greatest day for an outdoor event.

“We had an inch and a half of snow, gale force winds, and it never made it over 30 degrees [F],” said Diane Seskes, who is organizing the event for the Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce (PACC). “People were in snowsuits. But we had 498 paid patrons through the gates. We had people from Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and other areas of Ohio, and everyone had fun.”

The one-day festival celebrating the springtime arrival of the ramp — also known as the wild leek, the ramson and even “little stinkers” by some folks in the Cuyahoga Valley, Seskes said — is back again with food, demonstrations, activities and entertainment. This year’s event will take place April 26 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Brandywine Country Club on Par 3, 5555 Akron-Peninsula Road.

The ramp is a wild herb found throughout the Northeastern United States and celebrated in Appalachia for decades, festival officials said. Ramps flourish in leafy mulch in hardwood forests, and their leaves appear briefly in spring. They have a strong garlic and onion flavor that has been described as rich, earthy and lingering and not like anything else, according to festival officials.

Seskes said this year’s festival will feature about 40 vendors, up from last year’s 25. Some will be creating dishes for sale with ramps, like ramp pierogis, while others will have items such as soaps with the greens added to them.

Seskes said there also will be two guided walks. One will be with a National Park Service ranger who will talk about invasive plants, and the other will feature Don King, of Kent, on mushroom hunting.

Cooking demonstrations will be conducted by Brian Doyle of SowFood, Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Creamery and Ben Bebenroth of Spice of Life Catering.

Those who would like to experiment with ramps can buy some fresh ones while they last, Seskes said.

An indoor wine and beer area also will be open for festival-goers, she added, where they can also try a bloody stinkin’ Mary drink.

“They were a hit last year,” Seskes said.

Several local musicians are also scheduled to perform throughout the day.

Admission to Ramp Up Peninsula is $3, but free for children 12 and younger.

The event is the first this year of several that the PACC is hosting to welcome visitors to the town.

Among the other highlights this year are the Plein Air Competition June 6-8 at various locations; the second Peninsula Local Food Fest Aug. 10 around town; Music on the Porches Sept. 27 from 11 a.m. until the evening; and the Candlelight Walk Dec. 4 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Seskes added Peninsula Python Day will be held again July 19. The event is going to be more of a community-supported event this year, she said, and will include a parade at 1:30 p.m.

For more information about events, go to www.explorepeninsula.com.

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