Local Philadelphians who attended the first annual Philadelphia Cheesesteak Festival are used to ordering their wiz and wiz wit-out cheesesteaks at their favorite cheesesteak joints. Most are even willing to wait in line for their favorite. But the lines at Philadelphia Cheesesteak Festival were unlike any line that you’d typically see at your favorite cheesesteak spot. They wrapped around throughout the crowds, seeming to go on forever and ever.
The event was held at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, Oct. 24. The cheesesteak vendors were set up in the parking lot in the K Lot section. Guests were hoping for the event to be in the actual stadium, but no such luck. Everyone that was hoping to enter the event close to the start time (11 a.m.) was stuck in traffic for over an hour just to park. They then had to wait in another long line to get into the event based on which package they purchased. Only one package came with tasting vouchers, so most people had to purchase those as well.
The event featured samples from over 40 different cheesesteak vendors around Philadelphia with an estimated 25,000 people in attendance. The local band Go Go Gadget kept the crowd entertained, but most people seemed annoyed while trying to navigate through the crowd just to get their samples. There was a small seating area, but most chose to eat their sample while waiting in line for another one to save time. We were there for over two hours and only had enough time to get three samples from Steve’s Prince of Steaks, Philly IT Cheesesteaks and Humpty’s Dumplings. The samples were delicious and the vendors were working very hard to keep up with the crowd, but overall it wasn’t worth the aggravation. Social media surrounding the even has been flooded with negative comments since Saturday.
“I was really excited to go to the Cheesesteak Festival and thought it was a great idea. In fact, I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been done sooner. SIGH. All I can say is brilliant idea, terrible execution. I would be open to going again, but I would need it to be much better organized with the food vendors spread out, a map, and possibly even a package that included drinks. You should be handed your packet, including T shirts, upon arrival,” said Meg Arbo.
The event also featured a carnival area with games, bull riding and a small zip line. Everyone also enjoyed watching the first annual Cheesesteak Challenge Eating Competition which featured a 500 foot long Steve’s Prince of Steaks and Amoroso’s Bakery cheesesteak that broke the record for the world’s largest cheesesteak.
The festival’s organizers promise for a better event next year with improvements. Let’s hope so because Philadelphian’s sure do love their cheesesteaks and this event proved that if you mess with that, you’re going to hear about it.