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A Weekend Trifecta of CLE Arts, Eats and Roller Derby

… A look back at last weekend’s Parade the Circle, BRRG and Chef Jam 2010 …

The Sold-Out Chef Jam 2010 on Sunday night demonstrated the thriving partnership between Cleveland's restaurant and music communities.


One of my goals when I started this blog was to highlight a variety of the places and events that can be found in Cleveland.  And I hope that I’ve made some progress in doing so.  I truly believe that whatever your interests, Cleveland offers a number of great opportunities to meet those needs throughout the year.   
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to demonstrate this notion of a versatile Cleveland by seeing if I could fill one weekend with activities that would appeal to different tastes.  Last weekend I was able to find and attend 3 Cleveland events that would interest fans of arts & culture, sports, local food and music: University Circle’s Parade the Circle, the Burning River Roller Girls’ semifinals, and Chef Jam 2010. 



Colorful balloon arches introduced each section of Parade the Circle.


The floats and costumes found throughout the Parade were full of intricate and creative designs.


My weekend started early Saturday morning when I sleepily dragged myself out of bed to head over to Cleveland’s Eastside for Parade the Circle.   

In addition to floats, costumed stilt-walkers and musicians made their way down East Boulevard.


I knew that I’d need to gather my strength for a long day, so I first stopped by The Inn on Coventry for breakfast.  The Inn on Coventry, which will celebrate its 29th anniversary this July, is a mom-and-mom community restaurant with three generations of home-style cooks.  It’s been named one of the best breakfasts in Cleveland, and my first time there did not disappoint as they balanced a creative and delicious breakfast menu with the laidback atmosphere and value you’d find at a family-run restaurant.  I ordered a short-stack of their Crunchberry Pancakes and was very pleased with the result — two huge pancakes with granola and blueberry mixed in. Other pancakes on the menu include lemon ricotta, pumpkin and reese’s pancakes.  Not a fan of pancakes?  Their selection of egg specialities had me looking forward to my next visit so that I can try out their Swedish Eggs.   

Hawken School Community's Op and Pop and Things that Go Round! float.


I walked off  my hearty breakfast on my way down to Wade Oval for Parade the Circle.  Parade the Circle – often heralded as Cleveland’s signature summer event – is held yearly in University Circle’s Wade Oval by the Cleveland Museum of Art and University Circle, Inc.  At noon, a parade of floats, puppets, stilt-walkers, dancers, and musicians weaved its way down East Boulevard and Wade Oval Drive.  The creativity and intricacy found in the floats and costumes aptly demonstrated the dedication and talent of our local arts groups, community organizations and schools. Another highlight of the parade was how a number of the displays were themed around the environment — incorporating the idea of conservation not just in what the floats presented but also how they were constructed.  For instance, Sawson Alhaddad and Friends’ Phoenix-themed float was a giant phoenix bird constructed entirely of discarded medical supplies.    

After the parade, Circle Village was open in Wade Oval until 4pm for an afternoon of interactive displays, live music, and local food.   

Circle Village featured activities sponsored by local organizations.


Among other things, the 32+ activities promoted:    

  • the arts – the Famicos Foundation invited children to paint one of three canvas murals with an image from their neighborhood;
  • science – the Cleveland Museum of Natural History celebrated their 90th anniversary with hands-on science crafts;
  • healthier lifestyles – the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Center had families create a Dream Catcher and provided educational information and a nursing staff to answer questions about sleep habits

Parade the Circle has always proven to be a unique event that does an excellent job in promoting community involvement and an awareness of the arts in Cleveland – and this year was no different.     



The jammer for the Hellbombers (left) speeds towards the pack as the Hard Knockers look on from the bench.


After spending the day out in the heat, it was nice to head over to the airconditioned Wolstein Center for the Burning River Roller Girls‘ semifinals bout.  The BRRG are Cleveland’s first all-female, skater-owned, flat-track derby league.  Saturday night’s two matches pitted the Cleveland Steamers against the Rolling Pin-Ups and the Hellbombers against the Hard Knockers to determine who would be heading to the fourth season finals in July.   

The Cleveland Steamers and Rolling Pin-Ups line up as a jam is about to start.


First up were the Cleveland Steamers and the Rolling Pin-Ups.  Going into the match, the Cleveland Steamers were 2-1 for the season – their only defeat at the hands of the Hellbombers in Bout 1. And with the very first jam of Saturday’s match, they seemed to be on the road to another victory.  During the first jam, the Steamers immediately scored 10 points after the Rolling Pin-Ups’ jammer got penalized and was out of the jam.  However, the Pin-Ups – who were 1-2 for the season – staged an early comeback when they racked up 13 points in two jams, bringing the score to 18-15.  By the end of the first half, the score was 28-19 with the Rolling Pin-Ups in the lead.  During the second half, the Rolling Pin-Ups sealed their victory as the unstoppable Punk’d Pixie scored another 9 points on the half’s 1st jam and brought the score to 37-19.  With each jam, the Steamers continued to fall further behind.  Although they worked very hard and ended up with 35 points by the end of the match, the Steamers were no match for the Pin-Ups on Saturday as the score ended 57-35 with the Pin-Ups headed for the Hazard Cup in July.   

Aaron Bonk of HeyBonk.com thrilled the crowd between the 2 BRRG matches.


The second match pitted the undefeated Hellbombers against the Hard Knockers who were 0-3 for the season.  Although the Hard Knockers were the first to score – earning 4 points in the first jam, the Hellbombers’ brutal and nimble offense helped them take a decisive lead in the second jam.  Captain Erin Gargiulo from the Hellbombers scored an incredible 14 points in one jam.  The Hellbombers demonstrated that they were dedicated to victory as their jammers swiftly pushed through the pack jam after jam bringing the score to 17-59 by halftime in favor of the Hellbombers.  In the second half, the Hard Knockers tried to rally together in hopes of a victory.  And when the Hard Knockers earned lead jammer three jams in a row, it seemed as if they were making good progress. However, by the end of the match, the Hellbombers defeated the Hard Knockers 117 to 43.  Although it will be the undefeated Hellbombers in next month’s finals, the Hard Knockers deserve praise for their fortitude on Saturday night as they continued to battle hard despite the Hellbombers’ insurmountable lead.   

With these two exciting matches, as well as the thrilling juggling antics of Aaron Bonk of Hey Bonk! fame, the Burning River Roller Girls’ semifinals were an incredible way to end my Saturday.  And considering how close the Rolling Pin-Ups and Hellbombers’ last match was in May, both teams will have their work cut out for them as they prepare for the finals on July 10th.   


CHEF JAM 2010   

In addition to 26 local chefs, Chef Jam featured performances by The Rare Birds (pictured), Melange, Evil Eye, Cream of the Crop and guest Todd Rundgren.


The staff from Melange serving their George Thoroughgood-inspired ribs, wings and dill pickle popcorn.


After Saturday’s marathon of activities, I took it easy on Sunday until that evening’s sold-out Chef Jam.   Chef Jam 2010 was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to benefit Cleveland Food Rocks and the Rock Hall‘s education programs and promote the city’s talented restaurant industry.      

Featuring 26 of the best chefs in the city, a selection of local bands, and a performance by Todd Rundgren, Chef Jam 2010 satisfied the epicurean in all who attended.   

Scott tries Melange's incredibly tender Watermelon 'Bad to the Bone' Ribs.


The Rock Hall buzzed with the sounds of the 1000 attendees who flocked from table to table sampling dishes themed around a different musician. Understanding how theatricality often goes hand-in-hand with great rock-and-roll, a number of the chefs and restaurants’ staffs also dressed the part for their particular theme.  In addition to the Happy Dog – who put together another hot dog masterpiece with their ‘Aint’ Nothing but a Hound’ dogs, my other favorites included Melange’s selection inspired by George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers and Bistro on Lincoln Park’s Allman Brothers dessert. Melange cooked up a tender Watermelon ‘Bad to the Bone’ Ribs, Effervescent Chicken Wings, and an incredible Dill Pickle Popcorn. And Bistro on Lincoln Park featured a grilled ‘Eat a Peach’ peaches with cracked black pepper ice cream.    

The crowd packed the lobby of the Rock Hall to see Cream of the Crop and Todd Lundgren play.


As with any good recipe, you need more than just one ingredient to make it a success.  And the live performances coupled with the setting of the Rock Hall were the perfect complement to the featured chefs.  In addition to complimentary tours of the Rock Hall and its exhibits, guests were treated to performances by local bands and the legendary Todd Rundgren.   Melange’s Melange and Happy Dog’s Evil Eye opened up the show.  After that, The Rare Birds performed for the Greenhouse Tavern closing their set out with one of my favorites, She’s Smokin Hot.  Cream of the Crop closed the night with a guest performance by Todd Rundgren. When Steve Schimoler – owner/chef of Crop and founder of Cleveland Food Rocks – was interviewed by The Plain Dealer, he noted how Rundgren performed for free in support of the Rock Hall and Cleveland’s food scene – both of which he’s a fan.  And with the quality of the dishes and performances featured at Chef Jam, it’s no wonder.   



Although it ended up being a couple of whirlwind days, Parade the Circle, the BRRG and Chef Jam were the perfect examples of not just the variety but also the quality of events that can be found in Cleveland any weekend.   


Parade the Circle 411:
Event page
Hosted by:
University Circle, Inc. and
Cleveland Museum of Art    


Burning River Roller Girls 411:  
Upcoming Bouts
BRRG Teams
‘What is Roller Derby?’ Video


Chef Jam 2010 411:
Event Page
Hosted by:
Cleveland Food Rocks and
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame   

With So Much To Do in The Cleve This Weekend, Thank God for DVR


If you’re looking for something to do this weekend (6/11 – 6/13), Cleveland’s definitely not lacking in options. Myself, I’ll be running around tomorrow and Sunday – hitting up Parade the Circle, the Burning River Roller Girls’ Semi-Finals, and Chef Jam.

However, there are a variety of other things going on, including a number of community festivals, arts and shopping markets, and even a comic book convention. If you’re a True Blood fan with DVR, be happy you can record the season premiere since there are so many reasons to be out and about this weekend.

Sporting Events


Community Festivals

  • Made in the 216: A celebration of artists and culinary masters who have chosen to stay and build their businesses in Cleveland; Fri. – Sat.; Detroit Ave and W65th St.
  • Italian American Summer Festival: Celebrating its 10th year of Italian food, culture and entertainment; Fri. – Sun.; Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea 
  • The Riverfront Irish Festival: The 2nd largest Irish heritage event of the year – topped only by the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade; Fri. – Sun.; Falls River Square in Cuyahoga Falls


Arts and Entertainment Festivals:

  • 21st Parade the Circle: Cleveland’s signature summer event and parade; Sat. only; Wade Oval, University Circle
  • Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day: Live Performances, Restaurant Specials, Shopping, and Tours – PLUS, shuttles to and from Parade the Circle; Sat. only; Detroit Ave. between W. 54th and W. 78th Sts.
  • Chef Jam: 24 of the City’s Best Chefs Cook Up Dishes Themed Around Their Favorite Bands, plus Live Music and Rock Hall Tours; Sun. only; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • 2nd Annual Screaming Tiki Con: Comics, Toys, and Pop Culture Convention; Fri. – Sun.; Eastwood Expo Center
  • 5th Annual Crocker Park Fine Art Fair: The Guild of Artists & Artisans transforms Crocker Park into an outdoor art gallery with 130 individual booths; Sat. – Sun.; Crocker Park

Get a Clue about Cleveland

Three years ago, my job offered an opportunity to move from Philadelphia to Cleveland. At first, I wasn’t going to go. I had family and friends in the Philly area and loved living there. Then I was invited to visit Cleveland, and my song quickly changed.

My husband Scott and I were immediately hooked. That initial visit showed us there was not only a lot to do in Cleveland, but we could actually afford to do it (we were floored when parking for a night on the town didn’t equal what we spent on dinner). Plus, the city provided us the amenities we had grown to love in Philly, without overwhelming us in the ‘hustle and bustle.’

Of course, we also had a healthy sense of trepidation. We knew that Cleveland winters could be harsh, and we were moving to a place where we would be complete strangers — 8-10 hours away from our family and friends. Subsequently, when we drove our UHaul here on a snowy weekend in March 2007, we went with the notion that we weren’t tied down and could move back to Philly in a year or so.

Three years later, here I am writing a blog – my love letter, if you will – to the city I’ve now planted firm roots in.  Scott and I enjoy working in downtown Cleveland, married at St. Ann’s Church in Cleveland Heights last year, and just purchased our first home in Avon Lake.  We’ve built a network of friends and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Like it or not, Cleveland, we’re here to stay.

Which brings me to this blog.  From the first moment we decided to move to Cleveland, we often found ourselves defending our choice.  Not everyone, of course, was against the idea.  But we’ve had to stick up for Cleveland’s reputation more than a few times. And those friends and family who have visited us in Cleveland now understand why we vehemently defend it.

Like all loyal Clevelanders, I was pretty confused by the Forbes article rating Cleveland the #1 Most Miserable City.  I’ve lived here for 3 years, and that time hasn’t held a hint of misery. You can’t rate an emotion such as misery by comparing stats like ‘lousy weather’ (which I wouldn’t call that bad compared to the “Snowpocalypse” the east coast had to bear this winter).

So I decided to take to the web with my Cleveland-comrades-in-arms and write about it.  With Clue Into Cleveland I hope to share with you the places, people and events I love about Cleveland.  The places I’d share with you if you visited the city. The things that make me far from miserable. 

I hope you stay awhile and enjoy the trip.