By Nancy Young
WEST CHESTER TWP. _ The booming Union Centre area off Interstate 75 is joining the Tristate's festival field.
Featuring food from restaurants new and old and music from headliner Uncle Kracker as well as some locally popular bands, the first Union Centre Boulevard Bash is set for Aug. 9-10 at Centre Point and Union Centre Boulevard, just north of I-275.
Nearly a dozen restaurants have opened in Union Centre in the past three years, and many will be selling samples of food and drink for visitors. Organizers expect a crowd of close to 20,000 to attend the two-day festival.
"We're looking forward to taking our family to the festival. It's been fun to watch Union Centre take shape, with all of the restaurants and entertainment options opening up in the area," said Beth Bauer of West Chester. "West Chester has been a great residential community for many years, but it's nice to see the commercial and retail growth finally starting to happen."
Festivalgoers can choose from a range of restaurants from around West Chester, such as Hopps West Chester, Jag's Steak & Seafood, The Back Porch, and Cornerstone Cafe.
"We'll have everything from beer, funnel cakes and pizza, to rib eye sandwiches, cheesecake and frozen coffees, sauerkraut, Thai chicken salad and smoothies," says Pat Sheeran, vice president of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.
The Downtown Council, a division of the chamber that plans the Taste of Cincinnati every year, is organizing the event with the Union Centre Boulevard Merchants Association.
Jag's Steak & Seafood is the latest Union Centre restaurant to agree to participate in the Bash. The Jag's booth will sell steak kabobs, mini crab cakes and its specialty, ice cream.
"It is important for us to support the community that is helping us achieve such incredible success," said John Allgaier, one of Jag's owners. "We also want people to come to Union Centre to see everything that is happening here. Some of our investors intend to work our booth, which will be a lot of fun and give them an appreciation how hard our staff works in the restaurant!"
The Union Centre Boulevard Bash runs noon-midnight Saturday and noon-10 p.m. Aug. 10. Admission is free. More than 15 local companies are helping sponsor, including presenting sponsors Q102 and Warsteiner.
Performers will be The Remains, Leroy Ellington & the E-Funk Band, The Mistics, Funky Town, The Polecats, Patsy's Decline and The Rusty Griswolds. Uncle Kracker, who combines hip-hop, rock and soul and has hits such as "Follow Me'' and a new version of "Drift Away," takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
For information, call 579-3197 or visit the Web site.
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