CANTON, OH (March 11, 2009) - The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce has named the following key committee chairs: Steve Fricke, Balloon Classic Invitational and Steven Meeks, Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks; Keith Bennett, Ribs Burnoff; and Don Schneck, Timken Grand Parade.

Fricke graduated from Otterbein College and also holds a Masters of Education degree from Kent State University. With 12 years of service on the Balloon Classic Invitational committee, he is serving his first year as chairman. He has also served on the Security & Logistics committee for six years, and has been a "Battle of the Bands" judge for the Timken Grand Parade for eight years. A school psychologist and behavior consultant at Tuscarawas-Carroll-Harrison Educational Service Center, he is a member of the Ohio and National Associations of School Psychologists and is president of East Central Ohio School Psychologist Association. He is married to wife Barb. Assisting Fricke as vice-chairman of the Balloon Classic Committee is Scott Sanders.

Steve Fricke
Steven Meeks

Meeks is employed by the State of Ohio as Governor Ted Strickland's District 9 Regional Director. An Enshrinement Festival volunteer since 1990, he has been active with the Community Parade and events formerly known as Kickoff Sunday Race and Parade, and Hoover Grand Parade, which he chaired in 2002 and 2003. In addition to service as Jackson Township Trustee from 2000-2007, he has been affiliated with the Stark County Township Association and Jackson Township Economic Development and Comprehensive Plan Steering Committees, and is a graduate of the Stark County Local Government and Ohio Township Leadership Academies. He is the 2008 recipient of the Jackson-Belden Chamber of Commerce "Howard L. Kruman Memorial Award for Outstanding Citizen." He and his wife, Patty, have three daughters, one son and one granddaughter. Meeks will be assisted in the planning and staging of the Food Fest by vice-chairman Chet Niewierski.

Fricke, representing the Canton Chamber, and Meeks, representing the Jackson-Belden Chamber, are partnering to stage the Balloon Classic Invitational and the Food Fest and Fireworks, respectively. This is the 15th year the Chambers have collaborated on these events, which will take place July 31, Aug. 1 and 2 on the grounds of Kent State University Stark Campus and Stark State College of Technology.

During a two-and-a-half-day period, more than 125,000 people attend this family-friendly event, which includes some 70 hot air balloons, fireworks spectacular, food and beverage vendors, children's activity area and musical entertainment.

Bennett, president of Hammontree & Associates, Ltd., is a graduate of The University of Akron. He has been a member of the Ribs Burnoff committee for 13 years, with 2009 being his first as chairman. He serves on the boards of Friends of the Children Network and American Society of Highway Engineers and is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Bennett and wife Barbara are the parents of one son and one daughter. Long-time Ribs Burnoff committee volunteer Vicky Sterling has been selected to serve as vice-chairman of the committee. keith-bennett1

Together, they will oversee all aspects of the Ribs Burnoff, which will take place Aug. 5 through 7 at Stark County Fairgrounds. Special attractions include rib and specialty food vendors, beverages, children's entertainment area, fantasy football zone of interactive inflatables, an enormous sand sculpture and musical entertainment.

Don Schneck Schneck, a graduate of Purdue University, is certified by the State of Ohio as a business advisor and is the recently-retired director of the Small Business Development Center at Kent State University Stark. He has been a member of the Grand Parade committee since 2001, and has also volunteered since that time at the Ribs Burnoff. Civic affiliations include Rotary Club of Canton, Buckeye Council Boy Scouts, and Business Program Advisory Board of Hoover High School. He is married to wife Diane. Schneck will partner with vice-chairman Eric Stasiowski to attend to the myriad of details involved in staging this nationally-televised event.

The Timken Grand Parade will step off at 8 a.m., Sat., Aug. 8. It will be enjoyed by nearly 200,000 spectators along the 2.2 mile route, as well as by millions more via the national television broadcast. The parade will feature the current Class of Enshrinees, many returning Hall of Famers, marching bands, giant helium balloons, fabulous floats and animal and specialty units.

In 2009, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Enshrinement Festival will mark the 46th anniversary of honoring the legends of professional football, which includes conducting a world-renowned festival celebrating the annual enshrinement of football players, coaches and contributors into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The collaborative efforts of this leadership team, combined with the professional staffs at the Chamber of Commerce and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the dedicated team of more than 4,200 volunteers, will ensure the success of 15 unique events over a 10-day period of July 31 - Aug. 9, 2009. The Enshrinement Festival activities, attended by nearly 700,000 people, are expected to produce an economic impact of nearly $30 million for the Canton/Stark County area and $50 million for the State of Ohio. In addition, millions will experience aspects of the Enshrinement Festival as events are televised and covered by other media.

The central focus and highlight of the festivities will be the Aug. 8 induction ceremony for the 2009 Class of Enshrinees, comprised of wide receiver Bob Hayes, guard Randall McDaniel, defensive end Bruce Smith, linebacker Derrick Thomas, owner Ralph Wilson, Jr., and defensive back Rod Woodson.

For the complete schedule of events and ticket information, check the Web sites periodically for the latest news: or