Joe Cain, special events director of the Hilton Head Island Recreation Center, will be wearing a new hat Oct. 13 in honor of the center's inaugural Hilton Head Burgers & Brew Festival at Shelter Cove Community Park.
For the past six years, Cain has been known for wearing an alligator hat to promote the Rec Center's Cajun Fest, and for 17 years he's worn a wing hat during Wingfest. But from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, he'll be the guy with a cheeseburger on his head.
While the new festival puts the spotlight on an all-American favorite, festivalgoers can expect to see some inventive burgers on hand. Turkey, shrimp, lamb and even bologna will be grilled or cooked on a flat top in the park, and more than 20 beers will be available to taste. Fourteen area restaurants will compete for the title of Best Slider.
Coco's on the Beach will serve up a favorite with a twist, said owner Larry Watkins. Buckeye-Style Burgers will be made just like Coco's popular half-inch thick bologna sandwiches, which will be topped with Ben's Hot & Sweet mustard from Kingston, Ohio; Tony Packo's sweet and hot pickles from Toledo; and deep-fried onion rings.
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Five-napkin beef brisket mini burgers, including a Maytag blue-cheese burger with pecan-wood bacon, red onion jam and arugula, are expected to be the star at the Hudson's On the Docks booth.
To take advantage of the fresh local shrimp available, Hudson's also will make shrimp burger sliders with remoulade sauce. This is always available at Hudson's but is not on the menu, said Andrew Carmines, Hudson's general manager.
"A lot of restaurants are getting creative," Cain said. "Frankie Bones is creating a schnitzel burger, which is like a reuben with a pretzel bun, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing."
Wild Wing Cafe will bring fowl to the festival with its Great Gobbler, a turkey burger, as well as a Guinness Burger with pork belly glaze and a bleu cheese basil slider. A lamb burger and a jalapeno burger will be served by The Brew Pub.
Then there are restaurants such as Reilly's who plan to keep it simple with mini patty melts, Cain said.
An international menu of Cuban, Greek and Italian sliders will be offered by Cheap Seats Tavern, said Patsy Delello, chef and kitchen manager.
The winner will be selected by a people's choice vote.
The Burgers & Brew fundraiser is replacing the annual Cajun Festival because it is a more inclusive event, Cain said.
He noted that the Cajun Festival might return closer to Mardi Gras in February.
"Everybody likes burgers, even kids," Cain said.
WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO BURGER?