The Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, local restaurants and the community are geared up for the Alpenaopoly Grub Crawl that will be taking place Sept. 19. The event allows local businesses to showcase food and drink samplings to members of the public, who in turn qualify for prizes if they complete the crawl.
This year's theme is a spin-off on the popular board game Monopoly, and each ticket holder will receive a game board that features the names of the businesses taking part on it. As a person visits one of the stops on the crawl, they will receive a sticker verifying they have visited the establishment. If a person fills the board, they become eligible for prizes.
Chamber Executive Director Jackie Krawczak said besides being entertaining for the participants, it is a good way to introduce local businesses and their menus to customers who may not have even been to the establishment.
"We want to get people in town into places they may or may not know. We want them to go in and try it out, and they are very successful," Krawczak said. "This is our third one and people absolutely love it."
Krawczak said the event has become so popular that the chamber has been forced to put a limit on the number of tickets it can sell, as well as how many businesses can take part. She said the limits are in place to be sure the ticket holders can visit each place, and so the restaurants don't take a large hit financially for offering free samples and specials.
"We had too many locations the first year and people could not get to all of them in the amount of time we had," Krawczak said. "It is not hard to fill at all. People want to participate, but we have to cap the number, because it is not fair to the businesses to have hundreds of people coming in and getting things for free that night."
Krawczak said the event is not limited to people who live in Alpena. She said people from outside the area also take part, and some plan well in advance to be sure they are in town when the Grub Crawl takes place.
"We have people who come back to Alpena and stay here every year for it," Krawczak said. "There is one couple who just happened to be here for vacation and did it, and now they schedule their vacation around it every year. It is really cool."
There are a total of 12 stops on the crawl, and people have their choice of traveling on their own or using transportation that is provided for the event. Assistant Director Alisha Bouchard said people have from 5:30 to 10 p.m. to get their board filled.
"You can take your own vehicle, walk, bike and we will have three shuttles running three different routes throughout the night," Bouchard said. "The meeting spot will be Culligan Plaza and the shuttles will be leaving every 15 minutes."
This year's ticket is actually a bandana with the event's logo on it. To make things interesting, there will be a contest which encourages people to decorate their "ticket,'' and there will be a winner chosen for creativity. She said in the past people have made hats and flowers out of the bandanas. She said people can pretty much do what they want, as long as the logo is intact and readable.
Tickets for the Grub Crawl are available at the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce for $15 until Sept. 13. After that date the cost of a ticket climbs to $25.
For more information, contact the chamber at 354-4181.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.