Gone Fishin’ (and a #GrapesAndAle winner)

It's as if this bench was made just for Scott

Scott finds his perfect bench in Culpeper

I’ve gone fishing … Literally.   While spending this week in Virginia, I plan on catching a flounder or two at my parents’ house.

We’ve enjoyed our vacation so far, hitting up a few new antique shops in Gordonsville and Fredericksburg, taking drives through the country and strolls through Culpeper. And I can’t wait to spend the next couple of days along the Chesapeake.

These trips to see my sister Gabbie and my parents always come at the perfect time – allowing me to hit reset when I need to the most.

Gabbie and Scott figure out which antique store we're heading to next

Gabbie and Scott figure out which antique store we’re heading to next

Although my blog and I are both on vacation this week, I do have a winner to announce for my Grapes and Ale giveaway.

After placing the total number of entries into Random.org: Congratulations, entry 29 – Mindy Rodgers, for winning this giveaway! Please reply to my email by June 9 to confirm you can attend Grapes and Ale.

Grapes and Ale winner

Grapes and Ale tickets are still available for purchase online. Learn more here.

Have a wonderful week and if you miss me, head over to Beyond Bylines today where I’ve written about the torture (at least for me) of writing a blog’s About page.

Giveway: BBQ, Brews and Blues at Our Lady of the Wayside’s Grapes and Ale

Nothing – not even an 8-days-and-counting sinus infection – could have stopped me from BBQing with Scott’s family this weekend.

Memorial Day Picnic

The weather was perfect (unbelievably so, after our winter), the grill was blazing with cheese brats and Dad Hicken’s BBQ-sauce-laced burgers, and Scott’s mom put together one of the best macaroni salads I’ve had.

Scott and I even squeezed in a bike ride down to the lake. It was a much-needed distraction to forget about the voice I lost 5 days earlier.

I love BBQs, and the best one of the summer happens in a few weeks. On June 27, Our Lady of the Wayside and Giant Eagle will host their annual Grapes & Ale party at Progressive Field. 

Grapes and Ale

From 7-10pm, enjoy barbeque from Hot Sauce Williams, Famous Dave’s, 100th Bomb Group, Battery Park Wine Bar, and Corleone’s while sampling 200 wines and beers from William Hill Estate Winery, St. Michelle, Chloe Wine Collection, Great Lakes, Magic Hat, and more.

Colin Dussault’s Acoustic Side Project is back this year with live blues music throughout the night.

This party pretty much sums up all the best parts of summer for me: BBQ, beer, and the Indians ballpark.

Just learn from my first Grapes and Ale experience. Don’t wear white unless you’re carrying stain remover.

I’m not the only one who loves Grapes and Ale. The event has gotten so big the last couple years that Our Lady of the Wayside is expanding the space they use in Progressive Field.  That means room for even more fun!

Also new this year: Cupcake Vineyards’ Wine Truck will be making a tour stop  at the event.

Cupcake Tour

Grapes and Ale raises money for Our Lady of the Wayside. Located out in Avon, they provide services for 500 children and adults with developmental disabilities. Their programs include:

Grapes and Ale tickets start at $50 (Premiere Grand Tasting level), which gets you access to wine samplings and BBQ, a souvenir glass, music, silent auction and the Cupcake Truck Tour. Samplings of craft beers are also available for purchase at the WKNR Market Pavilion Brew Garden. The $125 VIP Majic of Wine Tasting ticket includes all of this, plus free parking and a blind wine tasting from 6-7pm.

Don’t plan on drinking? Enjoy BBQ, unlimited water and pepsi with a $20 Designated Driver ticket.

You can order tickets online or you can enter to win two $50 tickets right here!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment telling me what’s your favorite side dish to serve at a BBQ.

2) If you’re a fan of Our Lady of the Wayside and Clue Into Cleveland on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

3) Follow @ADHicken and @OurLadyWayside on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win a night of BBQ, brews and blues at #GrapesandAle - enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for tickets: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2vJ #CLE

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Tuesday, June 3 at 11:59PM to enter.  On Wednesday, June 4, Random.org will select a winner and I’ll announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Grapes and Ale with a guest in exchange for previewing the event. My choice to blog about this event is based on how much fun Scott and I had in years past. Opinions are my own.

I’m Sticking with Duck Tape: Avon’s Duck Tape Festival

My allergies hit me hard this past weekend and while I tried to rest up on Sunday morning, I turned to the soothing voice of Charles Osgood to take my mind off it.

It’s always a treat if I’m able to catch CBS Sunday Morning and I’m glad I tuned into the latest episode which featured something from my own backyard: the Duck Tape plant in Avon, Ohio.

In my college theatre tech days, there were few things I loved more than duct tape, hot glue guns, and a Leatherman. So after Scott and I moved to Avon Lake, I was excited to discover we lived only five minutes from ShurTech’s headquarters, home to the Duck Tape brand of duct tape.

While Duck Tape offers all the traditional types of duct tape and adhesives (I’m partial to ShurTech’s FrogTape for our painting projects), I have spent hours on their site looking at crafting and fabric tapes and colors and prints. They even have an Avengers Duck Tape, you guys!

If you’re on the hunt for a weekend craft activity, look no further than the Ducktivities page for decorative boxes, a Chevron clutch and even a travel game kit. Want to repurpose an old picture frame into a decorative chalkboard? Easy with their Chalkboard Deco Adhesive Laminate.

All things Duck Tape will be celebrated June 13-15 at this year’s Avon Heritage Duck Tape Festival.

Duck Tape Festival

It’s the 11th year of the event which takes place at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Avon and features concerts, a Duct Tape Parade, crafting areas and various other duct tape-related activities.

Last year’s winning float was a life-size version of the Back to the Future DeLorean so I can’t wait to see what this year’s parade participants have planned.

The festival is also attempting to break the Guinness World Record of most people modeling in a duct tape fashion show, and you can help!

If you’d like to participate in the fashion show, register here.

Participants are required to wear a minimum of two garments made entirely of duct tape (examples include: shirt/vest/jacket/skirt/pants/shorts) OR one garment made entirely of duct tape and one accessory item made entirely of duct tape (examples include: shoes/hat/scarf/hair bow/headband/purse).

You can read my recap of the 2011 festival and learn more about this year’s Duck Tape Festival at ducktapefestival.com.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a tour of the ShurTech headquarters, but was unable to attend. I also received a box of Duck Tape crafting supplies. My opinions and the choice to blog about the Duck Tape Festival are 100% my own.

ZippityZooDoo: June 6 at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Reminder: Sunday is your last chance to win 2 tickets to the Silver Spoon Awards.
Tweet daily for extra entries.

Photo provided by ClevelandZooSociety.org, courtesy of Dale McDonald

Photo provided by ClevelandZooSociety.org, courtesy of Dale McDonald

There’s a lot going on at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo right now, as the Zoo shakes off winter and prepares for a summer full of activities. Summer Day Camp starts in less than a month, tickets are on sale for Twilight at the Zoo, and – as I write this – Carousel Works is at the zoo installing the new Circle of Wildlife carousel:

Carousel Works

It’s no wonder with everything going on that Cleveland’s zoo is one of the final nominees in the USA Today 10Best U.S. Zoos contest. Be sure to vote for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo here!

To continue bringing us more educational and conservation activities, the Cleveland Zoological Society raises money and awareness through zoo memberships, adopt-an-animal programs and fundraising events.

Their next fundraiser, ZippityZooDoo, will be held June 6. It’s the event’s 41st year and is always a wonderful evening celebrating the kick off of the Zoo’s summer season.

ZippityZooDoo starts at 6pm with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy strolling around parts of the Zoo and getting up-close with some of its animals.

Then at 8pm, sit beneath the summer night sky for a gourmet dinner. Check out the menu, which includes olive and goat cheese stuffed mission fig with citrus pomegranate syrup, caviar, and maple citrus glazed airline chicken.

Photo provided by ClevelandZooSociety.org, courtesy of Dale McDonald

Photo provided by ClevelandZooSociety.org, courtesy of Dale McDonald

Dancing to The Element til 11 and a silent auction featuring behind-the-scenes experiences with orangutans, gorillas, and flamingos (among many other prizes) round out the night.

The event’s goal is to raise $300,000 overall for the Zoo. Individual tickets start at $250, which includes valet parking, dinner, dancing, and entertainment. Other ticket levels include preferred seating, name recognition in the program, plus an exclusive VIP pre-party in the African Elephant Crossing. 

Learn more and get your tickets online. You can also read my recaps of the last two ZippityZooDoos here and here.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend ZippityZooDoo but am unable due to a scheduling conflict. Opinions are 100% my own and based on my experience at previous ZippityZooDoos.

Giveaway: Celebrate Twenty Years of Silver Spoon Awards

UPDATE: After removing one pingback and three retracted entries, and placing the remaining total in Random.org:

silver spoon winner

Congratulations, entry 26 – Franklin Mayse, for winning this giveaway!
Please reply to my email by the morning of 5/13 to confirm you can attend Silver Spoon.

Silver Spoon Awards Party, May 14, 2014

Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Awards Party, May 14

When it comes to Cleveland food events, I like to prepare in advance. That means scouting which restaurants are going to be there, developing a game plan for the most efficient tasting route, and getting my appetite in shape.

There are some events I can get away with going in blind; however, if there’s anything I’ve learned from previous years, the Silver Spoon Awards Party is not one of those events.

I mean that in the best way.

When I’m asked for a list of my favorite Cleveland food events, a small handful come to mind. Year after year, Silver Spoon is consistently tops.

tacos

Photo via Silver Spoon CLE, by Lane Baldwin Photography

Each year, Cleveland Magazine readers vote on restaurants that are the best at what they do. Whether that’s pizza, brunch, sushi, Greek food, dessert, happy hour … the list goes on. The restaurant finalists are then invited to show off their signature dish in May to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio.

Add on top of that, wine from eight international vinters, cocktails from Brown-Forman, a silent auction, late-night after-party in the VIP lounge, and loads of other surprises, and now you know why I prepare like I’m going to run a marathon. 

This year’s Silver Spoon Party promises to be bigger than  ever because  it’s the 20th Anniversary. On Wednesday, May 14, over 40 restaurants will take over 200 Public Square. 

20 Years of Cleveland Magazine's Silver Spoon Awards

20 Years of Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Awards

And today I’m happy to not only share a sneak peek at what this year’s restaurants have planned, but also 2 tickets for you to win!

Here are some of the dishes you’ll be salivating over:

  • Aladdin’s Eatery: Jasmine’s Favorite and Lebanese Salata
  • Blue Point Grille: Blue Point oysters
  • Bubba’s-Q World Famous Bar-B-Q: De-boned baby back rib steak and Texas style brisket
  • EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute: Rabbit pie and ratatouille
  • Felice Urban Café: Grilled Calamari Salad with New Potato Confit
  • Great Lakes Brewing Co.: A tasting of a variety of beers and Bananas Foster Mousse Cups
  • Humble Wine Bar: Chocolate towers and cheese cakes
  • Jammy Buggars: PB&J Meatball Slider
  • Luca Italian Cuisine: Sacchetti al Tartufata Bianco, white truffle and ricotta stuffed sacchetti, black truffle cream sauce, aged fig balsamic
  • Lucky’s Café: Mini Reuben, corned beef, sauerkraut, on rye with Thousand Island dressing, all house made topped with swiss
  • Master Pizza: Pepperoni, plain, sausage, and the award-winning “Popeye” pizzas
  • Pacific East Coventry: Assortment of sushi
  • Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar: Braised Beef Ropa Vieja
  • Pearl of the Orient – East: Phoenix Salad (smoked shredded duck breast, chicken breast, agar agar, honeydew, cantaloupe, sesame seeds, sesame vinaigrette)
  • Pearl of the Orient – West: Strip Steak with Hoisin Sauce and Crispy Wonton
  • Phnom Penh: Vegetable Kuy Teav Chha Khmer; Chicken Preah Vihear
  • Pier W: Crawfish etouffee and zucchini bloom fritter, fava bean emulsion
  • Salmon Dave’s Pacific Grille: House cured wild salmon with citrus barbecue sauce and a mango poblano salsa
  • Society Lounge: Ramos “Bathtub Gin” Fizz, Kegged and Carbonated Moscow Mule and Barrel Aged Woodford Manhattans
  • Spice Kitchen + Bar: Seared Ramp Ravioli with green garlic sauce and micro greens
  • Sweet Melissa: Chocolate covered strawberries, cannoli, chocolate cake, red velvet cake, NY style cheesecake, keylime tarts, cookies, and more
  • Taki’s Greek Kitchen: Lamb chops w/mavrodaphine syrup, and spicy feta dip w/pita chips
  • Toast: Pigs in a blanket
  • Ty Fun Thai Bistro: Pad Thai
  • Zoup! Euclid & East 4th Street: Lobster bisque and chicken pot pie

Check out the full list of participating restaurants to see who else will be there. Personally, I can’t wait to discover what Cork & Cleaver, DANTE/Ginko, Fired Up Tacos, Lolita, and Mama Roberto’s have up their sleeve.

Hungry yet? You can purchase tickets for the Silver Spoon Awards Party online for $150 (VIP) and $100 (general admission).  Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment telling me which dish or restaurant you’re most excited for.

2) If you’re a fan of The Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio Chapter and Clue Into Cleveland on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

3) Follow @ADHicken and @SilverSpoonCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win tickets to @SilverSpoonCLE! Enter @ADHicken’s #SilverSpoonCLE giveaway: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2uQ #CLE

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Sunday, May 11 at 11:59PM to enter.  On Monday, May 12, Random.org will select a winner and I’ll announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Silver Spoon with a guest and give away 2 tickets on my blog. My opinions and the choice to post about this event are my own.

This Saturday: Free Comic Book Day in Cleveland

fcbd

Whether you’re an avid comic book reader, a fan of superhero movies and television, or just curious about what the fuss over comics and graphic novels are, this Saturday is a day for you.

Free Comic Book Day, the first Saturday in May, is one of my favorite days of the year. Sadly, I can’t attend any of this year’s festivities because we’re hosting family from out-of-town. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

What is Free Comic Book Day, you ask?

The first FCBD was held in 2002. And in the last 12 years, it’s grown and sparked a nationwide movement around comics and literacy. This year, Diamond Comics Distributors estimates 2,000+ shops will be giving away more than 4.6 million free comics in one day.

Archie, Hello Kitty, GI Joe, Batman, Rocket Raccoon and The Guardians of the Galaxy will all be in attendance — as well as a bunch of comics you may not know about, but should be reading. Over 60 titles are represented in this year’s haul.

USA Today has an awesome primer on which Free Comic Book Day books to read, based on your non-comic tastes.

However, Free Comic Book Day is about more than reading comics. It also spotlights your local comic book shops and the incredible community these brick-and-mortar small businesses build.

Sure, you can just find your local shop using the FCBD store locator, pick up your free books on Saturday, and leave.

But that misses the point of FCBD, in my opinion.

Instead, stick around for a few minutes or a few hours. Talk to the other comic book fans and the shop’s staff if they’re available. Take part in any of the day’s activities that the store has planned – many of them do. You’ll learn a lot and meet the nicest, coolest people.

My local shop, Comics Are Go in Elyria, will have Cleveland artist John G signing copies of “The Lake Erie Monster.” It’s a fantastic comic (read my review here).  Even if you aren’t into comics, you’re likely familiar with John and his work, as the artist of Melt’s monthly special posters.

Lake-Erie-Monster-Movie-Poster

Carol and John’s will be hosting not one, but two parties for Free Comic Book Day. Their annual Midnight Early Release party starts at 10 pm on Friday and goes til 2 am on Saturday. They’ll have free comic books (10 per person), free graphic novels, photo ops (including this TARDIS!), rewards for costumes, free sketches, food and drink including a special FCBD micro brew from Cleveland Action Brewery.

The day event goes from 10am til 7pm. Mark Sumerak will be autographing 200 free copies of his book Franklin Richards Son of a Genius. There will also be free sketches for kids and the live creation of a mural by the Rust Belt Monster Collective.

FCBDPostCardBack

You can read all about Carol and John’s event here.  They’ve also distributed comics to every single branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library for Saturday.

For other shops and FCBD events closer to where you live, check out Michael Sangiacomo’s column on Cleveland.com.

Guest Post: One Brunette’s Personal Connection to BvB CLE

This year’s Blondes vs Brunettes CLE game is right around the corner. In fact, player registration  closes May 4. I love this event and how it’s raised over $80,000 for the Cleveland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. 

This year, I figured I’d have someone stop by whose family is affected by Alzheimer’s so she can share her story and why BvB CLE is such a great cause to support.

Take it away, Ann!

Guest blogger Ann McDonald with her Team Brunette teammates at the 2012 BvB CLE

Guest blogger Ann McDonald with her Team Brunette teammates at the 2012 BvB CLE

I first heard about Blondes vs. Brunettes Cleveland (BvB CLE), a flag football game that raises money for the Cleveland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, two years ago thanks to a tweet from Amanda (truly the source for everything Cleveland).  

The fundraiser is now in its third year and I am so excited to be back again volunteering for a cause so important to my family.

Like many involved with BvB CLE, I have a personal connection to the disease. In 2008 my mom, at the age of 66, was diagnosed with Dementia.  It’s a difficult diagnosis, for many reasons, but particularly because there really is no treatment and the doctors can’t tell you what to expect.  Six years after diagnosis, my dad is now a full time caregiver for my mom, helping her with many of the tasks of daily life.

It’s not an easy thing to talk about, but that’s why fundraisers like BvB CLE that allow people to share their stories and bring more awareness to the disease are so important.

The entire event is planned by young professionals who all have a passion for bringing more awareness to the disease and raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

I love that a fun event can bring together people dealing with such a devastating disease.

Ypalz, the Alzheimer's Association Cleveland Chapter's young professionals group

Ypalz, the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Chapter’s young professionals group

This year’s BvB game will be played June 7 at Krenzler Field on Cleveland State’s campus.  As you probably guessed from the name of the event, the teams for the game will be divided based on the age-old rivalry between blondes and brunettes.  Redheads are “free agents,” permitted to play for the team of their choice.

Funds raised by the players will benefit the care, support, advocacy and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.  If you’re interested in signing up to play (women only) or coach, visit www.bvbcle.org – and hurry! Sign up for players ends May 4.

There will also be some fun events leading up to the game.  On May 9, BvB CLE will host a night of bowling at Madison Square Lanes (you can buy discounted tickets here) and on May 16, BvB players will be treated to a Pamper Night at Vanity Lab. Find out more about these events at www.facebook.com/bvbcleveland.

If you can’t make BvB CLE – check out the Young Professionalz Ypalz Facebook page for other volunteering opportunities.

Hope to see you at the game!

Ann McDonald is the Marketing Chair for BvB CLE. If you’d like to donate, please visit her fundraising page. Dog lovers should also check out her blog Dogs in the CLE.

#DazzleCLE: PlayhouseSquare to Shine Even Brighter

Over the last year, changes have been coming to the outside of PlayhouseSquare. But a few more are yet to come...

Over the last year, changes have been coming to the outside of PlayhouseSquare. But a few are yet to come…

Anyone who has visited one of PlayhouseSquare’s theatres recalls the first time they took in its restored beauty. The old-school glamour of its lobbies and theatres. The State Theatre murals. The Hanna’s ornate ceiling decked in mythological creatures. Those chandeliers.

It’s all the more stunning knowing that at one time these theatres fell into such disrepair that they were going to be torn down.

But because of Ray Shepardson - without whom, we would have had parking lots on Euclid Avenue – they were saved and a neighborhood in downtown Cleveland restored. In fact, PlayhouseSquare announced last month that they now have more season ticket holders than any city in America.

If you haven’t seen it or are unfamiliar with PlayhouseSquare’s comeback story, check out the Staging Success documentary:

To match the dazzle inside of its theatres, PlayhouseSquare is about to complete a dramatic transformation outside.

Over the last year, we’ve seen the plaza in the PlayhouseSquare district updated with an outdoor music stage, firepit, and dining area. Beautiful archways (my favorite of the exterior additions) now mark the boundaries of the neighborhood. Digital signs provide information and interaction opportunities for visitors. And a retro sign above the buildings at E. 13th St. and Euclid Avenue pays homage to PlayhouseSquare’s 1920s-era beginnings.

PlayhouseSquare 1

New signage can be found everywhere you look around and above you

All of these changes have led to the unveiling of the neighborhood’s centerpiece: The GE Chandelier.

20-feet tall and adorned with 4,200 crystals, it was inspired by the stunning chandeliers inside of the theatre. It will be a permanent fixture, connecting the points of the Euclid Ave. and E 14th Street intersection and serving as a can’t-miss welcome for PlayhouseSquare guests.

The massive chandelier was constructed by Montreal-based company Lumid. In addition to looking good, it’s been designed and tested to withstand the harshest conditions (take that, Cleveland winters!). 

The frame is currently up at PlayhouseSquare; however, you can be the first to see it lit up in all its glittering splendor this coming Friday:

Dazzle-countdown-events-images-general1

On May 2, the lights will be turned on at Dazzle the District. This free community celebration starts at 5pm with Taste of PlayhouseSquare, happy hours and live music on the U.S. Bank Plaza (previously Star Plaza).

At 8:30 pm, Nashville’s Hot Chelle Rae takes The University Hospitals Main Stage for a concert.

It all culminates with the GE Chandelier Lighting Ceremony at 9:30 p.m.

I hope you’ll join me this Friday! Admission to the event and concert is completely free. And stop by the blog after Dazzle the District for photos and a giveaway of PlayhouseSquare Dazzle swag.

The chandelier, even without its lights, is beautiful

Soon, this sight will be even more spectacular

Get all the Dazzle the District details at dazzle.playhousesquare.org and watch these videos to learn more about the GE Chandelier:

Disclosure: I was invited to blog about the event, though I was already planning on it because I love PlayhouseSquare and can’t wait to see the chandelier’s unveiling. Opinions here are 100% my own.

A Blast for Yuri: Great Lakes Science Center’s Yuri’s Night

Yuri's Night Cleveland 2014 at Great Lakes Science Center

Yuri’s Night Cleveland 2014 at Great Lakes Science Center

“Only in Cleveland,” Scott turned and said to me at this year’s Yuri’s Night Cleveland, “can I enjoy a drink at a science center to celebrate a Russian cosmonaut, while a band dressed in Star Trek uniforms named after a Mel Brooks pun plays Boogie Man.”

On April 12, space geeks came together with fans of science fiction, Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who and the Jetsons at the Great Lakes Science Center for Yuri’s Night. The party is Cleveland’s contribution to the worldwide celebration of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

Only at comic book conventions have I seen a celebration of so many layers of nerdom under one roof.  It’s why I love this event and look forward to it every year.

A photo with the guest of honor

A photo with Yuri

Our first stop at Yuri’s Night Cleveland was for a bit of rocket fuel.

Upstairs in the VIP lounge, we sampled a shot of chilled pea soup from AMP150 and grilled asparagus salad with parmesan biscuit from Crop. Downstairs, they had some of my favorite comfort foods including empanadas and fried ravioli.

And then of course there was dessert. While there were many sweets to choose from, I opted for A Cupcake a Day‘s blackberry sage cupcake, Peace Love and Little Donuts‘ raspberry lemonade donut, and astronaut chocolates from Sweet Designs.

Cupcakes

While we ate, Scott and I enjoyed a lot of rock and a little ska from Abby Normal. They embraced the spirit of the evening and captivated the crowd - dressing as a Star Trek crew and making great use of the Science Center’s escalators:

Abby Normal at Yuri's Night Cleveland

Abby Normal at Yuri’s Night Cleveland

After enjoying their performance, I tracked down the special guest I most-wanted to see.  No, not Astronaut Greg Johnson … R2D2!

Scott holds R2D2's gin and tonic while they get a picture together

Scott holds R2D2′s gin and tonic while they get a picture together

Ok, @Astro_Box was the Yuri’s Night guest I was second-most excited for, and we managed to have our photo taken with him at the end of the night.

Astronaut Greg Johnson

Astronaut Greg Johnson

I also had the pleasure of meeting the Doctor Who Society of Cleveland who brought their TARDIS. The craftsmanship was incredible. 

If you missed the TARDIS at Yuri’s Night, it’ll be at the premiere of episode 1 of T.R.A.C.E,  a Doctor Who Fan Film, on May 7.

Night made:

It IS bigger on the inside!

It IS bigger on the inside!

Some of the fashions at Yuri’s Night could have rivaled costumes at a convention. The costume contest winner honored the man we were celebrating, Yuri himself. However, this one was my favorite:

Vader

All this sightseeing and people watching tuckered me out. Fortunately, we were able to rest our feet in the Black Light Lounge.  New to this year’s Yuri’s Night party, the lounge featured an art wall for everyone to draw and write on and a CIA fashion show of wearable tech.

Of course, Yuri’s Night wasn’t all fun and games. In addition to checking out the Science Center’s exhibits, Scott and I made sure we took in a few lectures.

These weren’t your run-of-the-mill physics lessons. We first caught part of a talk on the similarities between real-life space science and its pop culture counterparts, and then we witnessed the Big Science Show’s rocket launch while learning about propulsion. 

Blast off!

Blast off!

Unfortunately, what goes up must come down and even the best of times must come to an end. So after GLSC’s epic midnight balloon drop, Scott and I called it a night and headed home.

However, we only have to wait til the Earth goes around the sun one more time before our next Yuri’s Night. I hope we’ll see you there!

Yuri's Night Balloon Drop

Yuri’s Night Balloon Drop

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Yuri’s Night with a guest in exchange for blogging about it ahead of the event. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Giveaway: Harvest for Hunger’s Market at the Food Bank

UPDATE: After removing one pingback and placing the remaining total in Random.org:

Market at the Food Bank winner

Congratulations, entry 26 – Jessica Z, for winning this giveaway!
Please reply to my email by 4/25 to confirm you can attend Market at the Food Bank.

This year's Market at the Food Bank takes place May 4 to benefit Harvest for Hunger

This year’s Market at the Food Bank takes place May 4 to benefit Harvest for Hunger

Checkout for Hunger, Brown Bag Day, food drives at WKYC, Indians games and area businesses — all around the region, people have been coming together for Harvest for Hunger.

Harvest for Hunger is one of the largest annual, community-wide food and funds drives in the nation, serving food pantries, hot meal programs, and shelters across 21 of Northeast and North Central Ohio’s counties.

During last year’s Harvest for Hunger, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and other local hunger relief organizations provided 16.5 million nutritious meals to the community. The plan this year is to top 17 million meals.

Ambitious? Yes, but hunger continues to be a growing problem in Northeast Ohio.

One way the Greater Cleveland Food Bank will reach this goal is Market at the Food Bank, Harvest for Hunger’s annual food tasting fundraiser.

On May 4, L’Albatros, EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, Greenhouse Tavern, Vintage Wine and 50 of Cleveland’s restaurants and beverage purveyors will spend the evening serving up delectable dishes and fine wines throughout the Food Bank’s distribution center.

The goal: to raise 1 million meals in just one night. 

Photos from last year's Market at the Food Bank (photo on left courtesy of Greater Cleveland Food Bank)

Photos from last year’s Market at the Food Bank (photo on left courtesy of Greater Cleveland Food Bank)

The meals provided through Harvest for Hunger will help seniors like Phyllis, families like Katie and Luke, children like Francisco. Our friends and neighbors.

Market at the Food Bank starts at 5pm on May 4. Early bird general admission is $85, though the price goes up on April 18. You can buy tickets online or enter this week’s giveaway for a pair of tickets.

How to enter: Do 1, some, or all 5 of the entries. Separate comment needed for each.

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment telling me how you support Harvest for Hunger. (Need ideas? Check out the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s site.)

2) If you’re a fan of Greater Cleveland Food Bank and Clue Into Cleveland on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

3) Follow @ADHicken and @CleveFoodbank on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win tickets to @CleveFoodbank’s Market at the Food Bank! Enter @ADHicken’s #MarketatFB giveaway: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2tG

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Monday, April 21 at 11:59PM to enter.  On Tuesday, April 22, Random.org will select a winner and I’ll announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Market at the Food Bank and give away 2 tickets on my blog. My opinions and the choice to post about this event are my own.