Pizza lovers collectively rejoiced Aug. 24 in Pickerington's American Legion Post 283. It was the site of the first Pizza Wars, an event the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce plans to hold annually.

Pizza lovers collectively rejoiced Aug. 24 in Pickerington's American Legion Post 283. It was the site of the first Pizza Wars, an event the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce plans to hold annually.

Four Pickerington restaurants convened to hold a friendly competition for best pizza in several categories. With free samples of pizza offered to those who attended, the event turned out to be a big hit for all involved.

At the end of the day, everybody was a winner. A steady stream of customers came away with hunger sated and taste buds stimulated and local businesses received instant feedback about their signature products.

"This event brings awareness about the businesses in the community and what they have to offer. This is the first time we've ever done this and it's been great," said Theresa Byers, president of the PACC.

Outside the Legion Hall, Pompeii's Inferno owner John Glavocich meticulously tended to the personal pizza that was baking inside his elaborate wood-fired oven.

"They didn't like the idea of me dragging the oven in there, something about the fire code," he joked.

It has been a busy summer for Pickerington-based Pompeii's, which has been a popular draw at the Pickerington Farmers' Market on Thursdays and a staple at area graduation parties as well.

"Every Saturday we've been booked for some type of party," Glavocich said.

"A lot of people that come to the Farmers' Market buy eight or nine pizzas and take them to their neighbors," he said.

Ariel Susi of Pickerington was inside the building, enjoying the atmosphere and plenty of pizza choices.

"When I heard about the free pizza, I thought I would try it out," Susi said. "You can't beat this."

Susi said she particularly liked the barbecue chicken pizza from Rule 3 and made sure to vote.

"It tastes amazing," she said. "It's made with all local ingredients, which I love."

Susi also sampled Taranto's Pizza Barn's Italian sub pizza, another crowd pleaser. Taranto's concoction won top prize in the contest's "Specialty Pizza" category.

Keith Bordner of Cardo's Pizza took home the top prize for the "Traditional Pepperoni" category and his garlic chicken pizza also garnered rave reviews.

"This (event) is about getting out in the community, trying to get involved and showing what you have to offer," Bordner said.

Taranto's Pizza Barn also won the award for best "Dessert Pizza," an apple pie pizza.

Jeremy Hamilton and his young son, Robbie, were equally impressed with both the pizza event and Post 283. The family just moved to Pickerington one year ago.

"We've tried all the pizza," Jeremy Hamilton said. "It's free and you just can't beat free.

"We came to check out the pizza, but also to check out the Post. My wife, Abby, and I are both veterans," he said.

Brittany Cox Thurkettle said organizers were impressed with the level of interest for the event.

"You're always nervous because you are not sure whether there is going to be five or one thousand show up, but we've had a great turnout for our first pizza competition," she said.

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