PARADE THE CIRCLE
My weekend started early Saturday morning when I sleepily dragged myself out of bed to head over to Cleveland’s Eastside for Parade the Circle.
I knew that I’d need to gather my strength for a long day, so I first stopped by The Inn on Coventry for breakfast. The Inn on Coventry, which will celebrate its 29th anniversary this July, is a mom-and-mom community restaurant with three generations of home-style cooks. It’s been named one of the best breakfasts in Cleveland, and my first time there did not disappoint as they balanced a creative and delicious breakfast menu with the laidback atmosphere and value you’d find at a family-run restaurant. I ordered a short-stack of their Crunchberry Pancakes and was very pleased with the result — two huge pancakes with granola and blueberry mixed in. Other pancakes on the menu include lemon ricotta, pumpkin and reese’s pancakes. Not a fan of pancakes? Their selection of egg specialities had me looking forward to my next visit so that I can try out their Swedish Eggs.
I walked off my hearty breakfast on my way down to Wade Oval for Parade the Circle. Parade the Circle – often heralded as Cleveland’s signature summer event – is held yearly in University Circle’s Wade Oval by the Cleveland Museum of Art and University Circle, Inc. At noon, a parade of floats, puppets, stilt-walkers, dancers, and musicians weaved its way down East Boulevard and Wade Oval Drive. The creativity and intricacy found in the floats and costumes aptly demonstrated the dedication and talent of our local arts groups, community organizations and schools. Another highlight of the parade was how a number of the displays were themed around the environment — incorporating the idea of conservation not just in what the floats presented but also how they were constructed. For instance, Sawson Alhaddad and Friends’ Phoenix-themed float was a giant phoenix bird constructed entirely of discarded medical supplies.
After the parade, Circle Village was open in Wade Oval until 4pm for an afternoon of interactive displays, live music, and local food.
Among other things, the 32+ activities promoted:
- the arts – the Famicos Foundation invited children to paint one of three canvas murals with an image from their neighborhood;
- science – the Cleveland Museum of Natural History celebrated their 90th anniversary with hands-on science crafts;
- healthier lifestyles – the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Center had families create a Dream Catcher and provided educational information and a nursing staff to answer questions about sleep habits
Parade the Circle has always proven to be a unique event that does an excellent job in promoting community involvement and an awareness of the arts in Cleveland – and this year was no different.
BURNING RIVER ROLLER GIRLS’ SEMIFINALS
After spending the day out in the heat, it was nice to head over to the airconditioned Wolstein Center for the Burning River Roller Girls‘ semifinals bout. The BRRG are Cleveland’s first all-female, skater-owned, flat-track derby league. Saturday night’s two matches pitted the Cleveland Steamers against the Rolling Pin-Ups and the Hellbombers against the Hard Knockers to determine who would be heading to the fourth season finals in July.
First up were the Cleveland Steamers and the Rolling Pin-Ups. Going into the match, the Cleveland Steamers were 2-1 for the season – their only defeat at the hands of the Hellbombers in Bout 1. And with the very first jam of Saturday’s match, they seemed to be on the road to another victory. During the first jam, the Steamers immediately scored 10 points after the Rolling Pin-Ups’ jammer got penalized and was out of the jam. However, the Pin-Ups – who were 1-2 for the season – staged an early comeback when they racked up 13 points in two jams, bringing the score to 18-15. By the end of the first half, the score was 28-19 with the Rolling Pin-Ups in the lead. During the second half, the Rolling Pin-Ups sealed their victory as the unstoppable Punk’d Pixie scored another 9 points on the half’s 1st jam and brought the score to 37-19. With each jam, the Steamers continued to fall further behind. Although they worked very hard and ended up with 35 points by the end of the match, the Steamers were no match for the Pin-Ups on Saturday as the score ended 57-35 with the Pin-Ups headed for the Hazard Cup in July.
The second match pitted the undefeated Hellbombers against the Hard Knockers who were 0-3 for the season. Although the Hard Knockers were the first to score – earning 4 points in the first jam, the Hellbombers’ brutal and nimble offense helped them take a decisive lead in the second jam. Captain Erin Gargiulo from the Hellbombers scored an incredible 14 points in one jam. The Hellbombers demonstrated that they were dedicated to victory as their jammers swiftly pushed through the pack jam after jam bringing the score to 17-59 by halftime in favor of the Hellbombers. In the second half, the Hard Knockers tried to rally together in hopes of a victory. And when the Hard Knockers earned lead jammer three jams in a row, it seemed as if they were making good progress. However, by the end of the match, the Hellbombers defeated the Hard Knockers 117 to 43. Although it will be the undefeated Hellbombers in next month’s finals, the Hard Knockers deserve praise for their fortitude on Saturday night as they continued to battle hard despite the Hellbombers’ insurmountable lead.
With these two exciting matches, as well as the thrilling juggling antics of Aaron Bonk of Hey Bonk! fame, the Burning River Roller Girls’ semifinals were an incredible way to end my Saturday. And considering how close the Rolling Pin-Ups and Hellbombers’ last match was in May, both teams will have their work cut out for them as they prepare for the finals on July 10th.
CHEF JAM 2010
After Saturday’s marathon of activities, I took it easy on Sunday until that evening’s sold-out Chef Jam. Chef Jam 2010 was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to benefit Cleveland Food Rocks and the Rock Hall‘s education programs and promote the city’s talented restaurant industry.
Featuring 26 of the best chefs in the city, a selection of local bands, and a performance by Todd Rundgren, Chef Jam 2010 satisfied the epicurean in all who attended.
The Rock Hall buzzed with the sounds of the 1000 attendees who flocked from table to table sampling dishes themed around a different musician. Understanding how theatricality often goes hand-in-hand with great rock-and-roll, a number of the chefs and restaurants’ staffs also dressed the part for their particular theme. In addition to the Happy Dog – who put together another hot dog masterpiece with their ‘Aint’ Nothing but a Hound’ dogs, my other favorites included Melange’s selection inspired by George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers and Bistro on Lincoln Park’s Allman Brothers dessert. Melange cooked up a tender Watermelon ‘Bad to the Bone’ Ribs, Effervescent Chicken Wings, and an incredible Dill Pickle Popcorn. And Bistro on Lincoln Park featured a grilled ‘Eat a Peach’ peaches with cracked black pepper ice cream.
As with any good recipe, you need more than just one ingredient to make it a success. And the live performances coupled with the setting of the Rock Hall were the perfect complement to the featured chefs. In addition to complimentary tours of the Rock Hall and its exhibits, guests were treated to performances by local bands and the legendary Todd Rundgren. Melange’s Melange and Happy Dog’s Evil Eye opened up the show. After that, The Rare Birds performed for the Greenhouse Tavern closing their set out with one of my favorites, She’s Smokin Hot. Cream of the Crop closed the night with a guest performance by Todd Rundgren. When Steve Schimoler – owner/chef of Crop and founder of Cleveland Food Rocks – was interviewed by The Plain Dealer, he noted how Rundgren performed for free in support of the Rock Hall and Cleveland’s food scene – both of which he’s a fan. And with the quality of the dishes and performances featured at Chef Jam, it’s no wonder.
Although it ended up being a couple of whirlwind days, Parade the Circle, the BRRG and Chef Jam were the perfect examples of not just the variety but also the quality of events that can be found in Cleveland any weekend.