Saturday ‘Pizza Palooza’ is a fun, festive fundraising feast for Meals on Wheels

(Courtesy)

(Courtesy)

Pizza Palooza participants

Rosati’s, Two Mamas, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Grama’s Bakery, Mama Artisans, Little Caesars, Prescott Meals on Wheels and Limoncello. The celebrity judges will be Daily Courier Community/Senior Editor Tim Wiederaenders; Phoenix Magazine food critic M.V. Moorehead and a selected pizza connoisseur from the audience. The vendors will all be vying for some $3,000 in prize money.

All proceeds will benefit the Prescott Meals on Wheels program.

Pizza! It’s the food fave of the masses.

Even vegan gourmands indulge in versions of the round dough pies that may hail from southern Italy but have evolved over the ages into a staple of the typical American diet.

Meals on Wheels in Prescott intends on Saturday, Oct. 21, to capitalize on local affection for these tasty circles covered in zesty sauces, most commonly tomato, garlic or alfredo, with innumerable blends of cheese smothered in toppings that can range from artichokes and anchovies to pepperoni and mushroom.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Cortez and Goodwin streets, the nonprofit, affordable meal delivery service to the elderly and the homebound will tempt every type of palate with its first-ever “Pizza Palooza,” a downtown smorgasbord-style tasting event intended to raise money to help provide for nutritional needs of the community’s most vulnerable.

Meals on Wheels’ 125 volunteers last year delivered and served 58,000 meals with a majority of those costs picked up through the generosity of this community’s neighbors. In addition to the meal, this agency provides wellness checks to its clients as well as much needed conversation and companionship. The agency’s connection with seniors and other homebound adults helps prevent the social isolation that can be as devastating to homebound individuals as any medical illness, Ijams said.

“We’re trying to create a fun, flavorful, festive day for the community,” said Meals on Wheels Executive Director Bert Ijams of what agency leaders intend to be a signature fundraising event. “Who doesn’t like pizza?"

Agency Development Director Tina Blake has worked tirelessly over the last few months to attract vendors and judges for what is hoped will prove a well-attended gastronomical, festive feast and fundraising event, Ijams said. Nine pizzerias, including locally-owned and chain operations, will compete with 20 different types of pizzas including a dessert delight, gluten-free, even a barbecue sauce-flavored version with a pineapple topper.

Admission for adults is $15 for 10 tastes and those 14 and under can get a ticket for five tastes for $7. A beer garden and soda garden will also be offered at an extra charge. Three celebrity judges — Daily Courier Community/Senior Editor Tim Wiederaenders; Phoenix Magazine food critic M.V. Moorehead and a “special pizza lover” randomly selected from the guests – will cast their votes in these categories: traditional, gluten-free, exotic and dessert pizza.

The vendors will be vying for some $3,000 in prize money.

“Pizza is a national favorite and we are thrilled to celebrate National Pizza Month with our community,” Blake said. “I can’t wait to taste pizza flavors such as brownie pizza, artichoke pesto and gluten-free vegetable.”

The four-hour event will also include live entertainment, pizza dough tossing competitions as well as a special kids’ corner and pizza box art display and sale.

“I’m so excited,” Ijams said. “This all supports our mission. It’s an event we hope will speak to the broader community.”

Tickets can be purchased online at prescottmealsonwheels.com with that including a ticket for a free soda. Tickets will also be sold at the door.