May 16, 2012 - Forget the diet and put your cardiologist on speed dial because it's time for Oxford to get its burger on.
Sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority, Backyards & Burgers (formerly known as the Hamburger Festival) is set to make the village sizzle from Thursday, May 17 to Sunday, May 20.
Carnival rides and games, gardening tips and do-it-yourself project ideas, first-class entertainment and of course, mouth-watering hamburgers are all part of the fun this year as downtown Oxford heralds the arrival of spring with this family-friendly extravaganza.
Located in downtown's southeast parking lot, the carnival will run all four days. Wristbands for ride access are available at www.oxfordbackyardsandburgers.com for $15 per person. Wristbands at the carnival cost $20 per person.
The carnival will run from 4-11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 12 noon until 11 p.m. on Saturday; and from 1-8 p.m. Sunday.
As always, the stars of this year's event will be the hamburgers themselves, expertly prepared and served by downtown's finest eateries as part of the "Best Burger in Oxford" contest.
This year's participating restaurants include 'Wiches, 24th Street Sports Tavern, Casa Real, Red Knapp's American Grill, Ox Bar & Grill, The Oxford Tap and Victoria's Delights.
Here's the burger each place is serving special for the event:
'Wiches: "The HammerBurger" – Smoked beef brisket with bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a honey-apple mustard barbecue sauce on a homemade bun.
24th Street Sports Tavern: "Vik's Pic: Humdinger" – One pound burger patty with American, Swiss and cheddar cheeses, shredded lettuce, grilled onions, jalapenos and Thousand Island dressing on a toasted bun
Casa Real: "Mexi Burger" – Beef burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, jalapenos and fries. Grilled pineapple slice optional.
Red Knapp's American Grill: "Wildcat Burger" – Just under 1 pound of hamburger with two slices of Swiss cheese, two slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato and Thousand Island dressing.
Ox Bar & Grill: "Pinconning Cheddar Burger" – Quality prime meat with Pinconning cheddar, slow-smoked applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion on a butter croissant.
The Oxford Tap: "The Hog Burger" – Secretly seasoned ground pork topped with homemade coleslaw and K.A. sauce.
Victoria's Delights: "Portobello Mushroom Burger" – Portobello mushroom topped with caramelized onions, Boursin cheese, roasted peppers, basil pesto and spring greens on an Italian roll.
All these burgers will be available at their respective restaurants throughout the event.
A secret panel of judges will select the winner of the "Best Burger in Oxford" contest, which will be announced on Saturday, May 19 at 1:30 p.m. in downtown's Centennial Park.
You might be wondering – where does the "backyards" part figure into all of this?
It all happens on Saturday, May 19 as Burdick Street Landscape, Supply & Equipment, Oxford Hardware and Oxford Home Garden & Pet will host a variety of demonstrations in Centennial Park for all those do-it-yourself types out there.
From 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Oxford Home Garden and Pet will show folks how to build a chicken coop. From 1:35 to 2:15 p.m., Oxford Hardware will host a Weber Grill demonstration. From 4:15 to 5 p.m., Burdick Street will present a landscaping power equipment demonstration.
Also on Saturday, at each of their respective stores, these three merchants will be offering food; showcasing in-store specials to get the old garden ready for spring; and helping Clear Lake and Leonard elementary schools' Green Clubs sell seedlings, provided by Harvest Time, as part of an environmental fund-raiser. Oxford Home Garden & Pet will also offer $1 pony rides for kids.
Those seeking family-friendly entertainment are encouraged to visit Centennial Park throughout the day Saturday for Chris Linn – America's Magical Funnyman. His show times are 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The Oxford Public Library will host a special storytime in the park from 4-5 p.m.
For kids and teens, Dubz Bikes & Boards will have a skate park set up in downtown's northeast parking lot on Friday (12 noon to 7 p.m.), Saturday (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Sunday (12 noon to 6 p.m.).
The Oxford Tap will have a beer tent open behind its establishment on Friday and Saturday from 12 noon until 11 p.m. Musical entertainment will be provided both days.
For more information, please visit www.oxfordbackyardsandburgers.com.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.