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Burgerfest touted in Kraft 'Best Town' contest

Hamburg is relying on the cheeseburger -- and you -- to get recognized as the "Single Best Town in America."

The town in Erie County, where many believe the hamburger was created in 1885, is one of 10 finalists in the search for America's Single Best Town. The contest is sponsored by Kraft Singles.

Hamburg is in the contest because of 16-year-old Emily Wong.

"My daughter, Emily, thought that it would be fun to have a backyard concert," said her mother, Shari. "Then she saw that Kraft Singles was having this contest."

The winning town will receive a block party featuring the country band Love and Theft, as well as appearances by ABC soap opera stars.

Voting takes place online at www.familyfun.com/best-town-contest. Voters can place one vote per day, through April 11.

Shari Wong urged her daughter to enter the contest, and she submitted a paragraph praising some of Hamburg's best activities, such as the Burgerfest, which celebrates the birth of the burger.

"What kind of burger would it be without cheese? A pretty boring one," she wrote, adding a line that Kraft Singles help make a perfect cheeseburger.

The picture accompanying the contest entry is of Emily's father, Bob, and brother, Mac, 6. Shari Wong said when they realized the entry called for a photo, they submitted one that was already in their computer. The couple also has two other children, Erica, 13, and Elise, 8.

The town is up against some unique competition, like Richmond, Mich., which runs an annual outhouse race, and Girard, Ill., with its old-fashioned soda fountain.

But Hamburg has the Burgerfest, held each summer to celebrate the birth of the burger by brothers Francis and Charles Menches, who invented the burger at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg by experimenting with ground beef after running out of pork for sausages at the fair.

Now the Wongs are trying to get the word out to Western New Yorkers to vote for Hamburg.

"Hopefully between now and the 11th, we can get some interest in it," Shari Wong said.

According to Emily's entry, people come to the Burgerfest to try modifications made to the original hamburger, and vendors enter the best burger contest, while there is live music, classic cars, and the bed race.

Take that, Bell Buckle, Tenn., and Twinsburg, Ohio.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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