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Local Brews and Bites Kick Off Summer at Great America

While slicing into a little sliver of Americana, foodies and beer fanatics dined and drank while watching dueling pianos and diverse music in Great America’s Hometown Square Memorial Day weekend and June 4-5 for the park’s first annual Red, White and Brews event.

For $25 guests chose six of the 32 craft beers on tap and 16 wines and for an additional $25 they were given a card allowing them to try six specialty food items prepared for the day, including a unique offering – bacon wrapped chicken hearts.

“[The food and beverage team likes] different stuff and were playing with whatever went with bacon,” said Wilfred Seymour, Great America’s director of food and beverage. “It’s very Americana–bacon–and we happen to have chicken hearts and we loved it.”

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Although many people enjoyed adventurous eating, there were some like Seaside’s Christopher Allmon and his wife, Devra, who weren’t fans of the offering.

“I tried it,” said Christopher Allmon. “I tried it twice as a matter of fact and I’m a foodie person. I don’t like livers and things like that but I thought I would try it and I don’t like it. We had the tombstone sliders and that was really good. It had pineapple salsa and jalapenos.”

The Allmons, season pass holders who consider themselves craft beer connoisseurs, were most interested in sampling beers they hadn’t already tried.

“We tried the [Ballast Point] watermelon sculpin and that was good,” said Christopher Allmon. “We had the 21st Amendment, which was also good. We are looking for things we haven’t had.”

The pair said they visited the park knowing about the event, but pass holder Dennis Deschler of San Jose, was pleasantly surprised to arrive and see the event happening. He tried three of the ales while taking in some of the afternoon entertainment and said he was pleased with the park’s atmosphere.

“It’s a good day,” he said. “The weather is good and everything is fine. I’m enjoying the [dueling pianos]. I missed the bluegrass music but we’re going to stay for the next one.”

For kids, the square featured red, white and blue oversized Adirondack chairs for photo opportunities, balloon artists and helium filled balloons handed out by employees. Many, though, like the Allmon’s 7, 15 and 18 year-olds, preferred to splish and splash at Great America’s water park while their parents took in the flavors of “Americana,” which included jumbo smoked chicken drums, spicy roasted corn on the cob, pulled pork buns and a choice of strawberry shortcake, bourbon peaches or warm apple pie, bacon and cheddar cheese parfait.

The Red, White and Brews event banked off of the successful Taste of Orleans, a Cajun-inspired festival that premiered in 2016, and is the second in a lineup of changes the park is making to better engage guests and pass holders.

“We’re trying to find new reasons to give pass holders the chance to take another visit and give them more initiative to come by the park more often,” said Great America’s Public Relations Manager Roger Ross. “Great America traditionally had a lot of great theming in the park and over the years some of that has faded away and we look to this as a chance to bring back some of the theming in the park, the atmosphere, the liveliness and give a lot of opportunities for people to come and make their day happier.”

Great America’s Taste of Orleans is scheduled for July 22-23 and 29-30. Visit www.cagreatamerica.com for more information.

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