June 19 Best in Paradise event benefits Food Bank

By Reggie Roberson

It’s back…but bigger and better than ever. The Best in Paradise No. 5 will be Saturday, June 19, to benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

One of the most requested changes the attendees have been asking for is for the chance to taste samples of the cheeseburgers that are being judged. New this year, they can. Because of the event’s new location at the Lombardi Club on Madison Street in the River District of Rockford, we can cook the contestants’ burgers at the festival in a licensed environment.

Another big change for the event for 2010 is the time. The event this year will be from 3 to 11 p.m. instead of the noon start to make it more adult-oriented. Many of the event attendees also requested a later time.

Moving the event to the Lombardi also has other benefits. The facility offers some rain protection that it is hoped won’t be utilized, and the officers of the club have been very charitable of their time and whatever has been needed for the event.

Let’s not forget the great backdrop of the river and the panoramic view of downtown. There are sure to be boaters on the river listening to the music. The new location has also opened up opportunities for new sponsors, especially restaurants and bars since the event is not held at a public establishment.

The committee is thankful for the use of the old location the last four years, but the move to the Lombardi was just too good to pass up.

The committee has already seen several new sponsors for this year’s event. Of course, there are still great opportunities for sponsors including stage sponsor and VIP tent sponsor. The committee is also looking for cheeseburger and margarita teams to sign up. Some spots are already filled, and they are looking for more. Major sponsors for the 2010 event include WIFR 23, 96.7 The Eagle, Bud Light, Pepsi, and Southern Wine & Spirits featuring Margaritaville Tequila & Rum.

The cheeseburger judging starts at 3:30 p.m. and will continue until 8 p.m. The best cheeseburger team will win $500, and there will also be a People’s Choice Award this year selected by the event attendees. As always, four brave judges will be sacrificing their bodies to judge all the burgers! It’s a lot of tasting and a tall order, but they have as much fun as the contestants. New this year, after the teams present to the judge, they will cook their burgers and sell samples immediately to the patrons. The attendees then can taste whichever burger they wish, or all of them for 50 cents a sample. During the event, they can vote for the People’s Choice awards.

The margarita team format will be almost the same as in the past with the judging being done from 5 to 6 p.m., and the samples being purchased for 50 cents after the judges are done. The winning team gets $250, and there is also a People’s Choice Award for the margarita teams. The margarita judges seem to get into their work every year, and we always have dozens of volunteers.

The 2010 event will also include Pirates Over 40 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and a yet-to-be-announced opening band from 3 to 5 p.m. Live music from 3 to 9:30 p.m. will be followed by the ever-important award ceremony.

The event also features a chance to win four great Jimmy Buffett tickets and some unbelievable raffle prizes. People are always surprised by the quality and quantity of the raffle prizes. Mark your calendars for June 19 from 3 to 10:30 p.m., and don’t forget to bring your comfy lounge chairs.

Let’s not ever lose sight of why we are partying with a purpose. The Northern Illinois Food Bank has been taxed more than ever the last two years, and they still need our help. Many of our neighbors are struggling and need assistance. Let’s get the job done. Last year’s event raised well more than $5,000, and the event has doubled in attendance and proceeds every year. The event’s goal is to throw a great party and raise needed revenue for the Northern Illinois Food Bank and its customers who are thankful.

To sponsor, donate a raffle item, or to enroll your team, please call (815) 312-0281 or e-mail bestcheeseburger@aol.com, and, of course, you can check out the Web site at www.thebestinparadise.com. The event is only two months away, so get focused and organized and get your teams together. They also need close to 100 volunteers to pull this off, so contact the committee if you would like to volunteer.

From the April 7-13, 2010 issue

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