What a way to kick off summer.
Everything fell into place last weekend for the second annual Gus Macker and the Allegheny Burger Festival - the weather was beautiful, the new layout and blacktop brought in 186 teams and the burger vendors were busy.
"It was probably one of the best early-season tournaments," Scott McNeal, the Gus Macker founder, said. "The key to that event has been as a group, you guys have been able to incorporate the burger fest."
There were more teams registered this year, a good sign, McNeal said, that the tournament will continue to expand now that people have seen it established over a second year.
"We very much plan to come back," he said, adding that he would like to see 250 teams play next year.
"There is definitely room for expansion," he said. "I do think there's room."
"Overall it went really well having both events going on at the park," Melissa Anderson, director of chamber operations for the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry, said. "Moving forward there's always room for improvement and that's something we're working on heading into 2013."
Council on Tourism Director John Papalia Jr. said the "new blacktop surface was fantastic, we heard a lot of good feedback."
Combining the tournament and the burger festival together at Betts Park offers a unique playing experience for the Gus Macker which is usually played on the street and is not surrounded by as much activity, Papalia said.
"It gives something else for those other people to do," McNeal said. "I had a lot of people coming up to me very, very impressed with how they liked it."
Playing at Betts Park gave teams the opportunity to find some shade, eat and drink when they wanted to, Papalia said.
"I think the new layout was ideal, all of the Gus Macker players that I talked to loved it," Papalia said. "People could sit back and watch some basketball and cool down when they're not playing. In general, we heard nothing but positive comments from the players and Gus Macker staff."
The decision to pay Gus Busters this year to referee worked out well, Papalia said, as there were referees on courts every day of the tournament and officials were able to double up on championship games.
"The referees are really key to this tournament, the volunteers as well, there's no way we could of handled something like this without them," Anderson said. "They really do make the Gus Macker tournament."
Anderson said the burger vendors did well this year, with one vendor selling over 500 pounds of hamburger over the weekend.
The Bastie Boys, led by Kurtis Upton, won the amateur cook-off in all categories this year.
Wells Hog Wild BBQ Company from Warren took first place in the burger vendor judging with the Big Hog Burger; Fowlers from Sinclairville, N.Y. took second place with the Big Kahuna Krispy Kreme Burger; and McNutters Restaurant from Lander took third place with the Fiesta Burger.
Both Anderson and Papalia are hopeful that the Gus Macker and the burger festival will return to Warren next year.
"All indications point to planning a successful event in 2013," Anderson said.