Is there a food more popular in Toledo than barbecued ribs, which for the past few years have been the centerpiece of competing festivals?
Pat Nowak thinks so, and it's the thinking behind the Pizza Palooza festival the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce has planned for late July at the recently revamped Centennial Terrace in Sylvania Township.
"What is more popular than ribs? Pizza," the chamber of commerce director said following a news conference during which pizza vendors and entertainment for the July 23-24 event were announced.
Responses from vendors after the chamber sent out letters
during January and February
gave every reason to believe the event will be a hit, Ms. Nowak said.
"Right away, we got reservations back in," she said.
More than 8,000 people are expected to attend and vote for their favorite pizzas as vendors vie for selection of Best Pizza Restaurant in Northwest Ohio.
Those already booked for the event include Aimee's Pizza,
Andrew Z Pizzeria, Bennett's Pizza, Charlie's Pizza, Jets Pizza,
Jo Jo's Pizza, Marco's Pizza, Padrone's Pizza, Rosie's Pizza, The Original Gino's Pizza, and Vito's Pizza.
A media and corporate challenge pizza bake-off will be held as well.
The Danger Brothers will be the featured musical act on July 23, along with Mas Fina and 56 Daze.
The Undeserving will be the July 24 headliners, performing in their northwest Ohio debut, joined by Johnny Rocker and the Hitmen and Madison Avenue Band.
Admission will be $5, with children 5 and under admitted for free. Proceeds will benefit the chamber and the Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District. Kistler Ford is the title sponsor, with 15 other national and local firms providing sponsorships.
A similar festival was held at the Westgate Village shopping plaza in West Toledo until early last decade, Ms. Nowak said, "and I
always thought it was a great time."
Centennial Terrace will be an even better venue for it, however, because that facility is "festival ready," with no need to set up special access control for such events, she said.
Ms. Nowak said the chamber's signing of The Undeserving to headline the Saturday musical lineup has proven to be something of a coup, since that was done before the Fremont-based band's first single, "Something to Hope For," was chosen to promote this year's season of American Idol.
"This is a great coming-out event for them," the chamber president said.
The balance of the lineup, she said, is "a strong regional group" that should provide ample entertainment for festival-goers but probably won't attract,
from farther away, fans "who will just stand there and listen to the music" without patronizing vendors.
"It really should be about the pizza," Ms. Nowak said.