Eighth annual Grill for Good attracts large crowds

Attendees watch the Juke Hounds perform on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

Kaylee Peterson

Approximately twenty cooks — dubbed ‘foodies’ by event organizers — lined the streets of Downtown Kent. Smoke and live music filled the air, and a few thousand attendees filled the streets to support the 8th Annual Grill for Good Sunday.

The event was originally conceived by Marilyn Sessions and her husband, Brian. Sessions, who some foodies call the ‘godmother of Grill for Good,’ said the idea came after she and her husband participated in a grilling competition in Atlanta.

The Sessions placed second in the nation at the competition, and as they traveled back to Kent, they wondered how they could bring together their passion for the community and for grilling. The solution, she said, was Grill for Good.

Mark Frisone, the executive director of Family and Community Services, said the event was great for them as donations tend to go down in the summer, although their organization’s need goes up.

“With it being summer and school being out, all of the kids who are a part of the school lunch program suddenly have a need for assistance,” Frisone said. “People love to donate during the holidays, but we really need help in the summer.”

Family and Community Services usually receives about $5,000 annually from this event, Frisone said, and the organization has been a benefactor every year.

Bob Steinheiser, chief officer of Adult Day Services and a Kent State alumni, said this year’s event was one of the best yet.

“It’s been busy all day,” Steinheiser said during the event, “We ordered 400 bananas for our fruit kabobs and we’re nearly out.”

While most booths offered grilled meat like pulled pork sandwiches or flank steak, Coleman Professional services considered themselves to be the lone dessert booth of the event.

“We were slow at first, but as soon as people finished up with their sandwiches and meat, they headed our way, and then came back for seconds.” Steinheiser said.

In addition to raising money, the event featured beer, live music and two competitions: an overall grilling contest and a wing contest. Fresco’s Mexican Grill won the wing contest and Gary Knuth won the grilling contest for the second consecutive year with a cheese-stuffed poblano.

Catherine Slapnicker, a co-chair of Grill for Good, said the event was more successful than they thought it would be.

“The food was absolutely excellent this year and the weather was beautiful,” Slapnicker said. “It just keeps growing every year and more people expect it to happen and plan on attending, so we expect it to continue to be successful.” 

Kaylee Peterson is the downtown reporter, contact her at [email protected]