Hyannis Harbor Hawks

Pizza Fest 2019!

It was a hot summer's day. People were strolling about, upbeat music blessing the ears of those in reach, the smell of freshly-cooked pizza wafting through the air. No, it wasn't a scene from a bustling street in Italy - it was the Harbor Hawks' second annual Pizza Fest, presented by Hy-Line Cruises, on the Hyannis Town Green. The date was July 14th, and from 12-4 p.m. fans of pizza and baseball alike came together to make the event a huge success.

Temperatures reached as high as 89 degrees on the day, but that didn't stop people from coming out to support the team and enjoy some of the best pizza the area has to offer. Eight different restaurants supplied countless delicious pies for the event, all vying to be voted as having the best pizza by those in attendance. Cape Cod Beer provided ice-cold beverages to wash down the pizza, Cape Cod Broadcasting kept the energy up with a variety of songs perfect for the occasion, and Cape Cod Creamery provided four different flavors of their renowned ice cream, the perfect frosty dessert for a scorching-hot day.

Pizza Fest was made possible in large part thanks to the support of Hy-Line Cruises, who partnered with the Harbor Hawks to help put on the event. Betsy Rich, Hy-Line's marketing manager, commented, "We are very proud to support a wonderful organization and keep it local. As a family-owned company, we are really happy to help to make this event a success." Cape Cod Beer played a large role as well, sponsoring the event and operating a pop-up beer garden within the festival grounds. "Cape Cod Beer is excited to be a part of an event that brings the community together to support the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, and enjoy delicious pizza!", a company executive remarked, delivering the last phrase with an extra tinge of enthusiasm.

Though pizza was the main attraction, there was plenty else to do throughout the four hours of the event. Attendees could purchase 50-50 raffle tickets, giving them the chance to take home the cash prize or one of the other items up for grabs. Numerous pieces of sports memorabilia were displayed on a stretch of tables, each looking to find their home with their highest bidders in a silent auction. A line of eager guests weaved its way backwards throughout the area, its members yearning for the cool relief of a cup of Cape Cod Creamery ice cream. Just outside the area cordoned off for the festivities, Harbor Hawks players threw frisbees and baseballs while children showed off their own hitting skills with a trio of whiffle-ball pitching machines.

Running the show in the kids' zone was Deb Dagwan, a member of the local organization Independence House. Independence House is a resource on Cape Cod that provides support, counseling, and advocacy for issues pertaining to domestic and sexual violence. A group of Independence House representatives set up a booth at Pizza Fest with a simple but powerful goal - raise attendees' awareness of these issues and invite them to sign a pledge condemning domestic and sexual violence and promising to never partake in such acts. By the end of the day the pledge was overflowing with signatures taking a united stance against these issues. Harbor Hawks players, who took the time to come to the event despite having a game in Chatham later that day, added their names to the list of pledgers. The pledge was even read and signed by young children, planting an essential seed in their minds about the importance of respecting and caring for fellow human beings.

One of the highlights of the day was the pizza eating contest, a closely-contested (and highly entertaining) affair. Eight contestants, hailing from as local as Cape Cod to as far away as Texas, were tasked with eating an entire half of a 16-inch Regina Pizzeria pizza. When the dust (and sauce) settled, Ben Floren from Hy-Line Cruises emerged victorious. The title couldn't have gone to a more fitting contestant; Hy-Line was the main sponsor of the event, and Floren himself helped adorn a truck with decorative pizzas advertising Pizza Fest for the Hyannis Fourth of July parade.

The day was capped of with the announcing of the winner of the fan vote for the restaurant with the best pizza. Garnering over 80 nods for the top spot, Jack's Pizza and Restaurant Bar took home this year's crown. Owners Derek and Grace Horton made their way to the stage, triumphantly accepting the first-place trophy. Ten Pin Eatery took home second place, and with it a smaller trophy, while Craigville Pizza & Mexican rounded out the podium in third place. When asked about the event, Derek Horton summed it up succinctly: "[There are] a lot of good restaurants here, a lot of good pizza, and a lot of good fun".

Even the restaurants that didn't earn the top spot had nothing but good things to say about Pizza Fest. Frank Fawcett, general manager of Regina Pizzeria, noted the mutual benefits the community and the Harbor Hawks receive from the event. Christian Boutiette of B & B Pizza perfectly encapsulates this sentiment, saying "It's a good time, [it] raises money and community . . . we've been doing things with the Harbor Hawks for about a decade now; it's a very nice collaboration".

In only its second year, Pizza Fest has already turned into a thriving event for the Hyannis community. Not resting on their laurels, the masterminds behind its success have plenty in mind for the coming years. Having only two years under its belt, the event has plenty of room to expand and improve. One person contrasted the day's festivities with that of another well-known local event, Chowder Fest. While Chowder Fest has years of history and plenty of resources, Pizza Fest is short on both accounts. Considering its sizeable success despite this difference, the possibilities for the future are endless. With an emphasis on community and bringing people together, Pizza Fest is sure to be a mainstay for Hyannis and the Harbor Hawks for years to come.

Byline: Matt Neiser

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