Discover Newport, the official destination management organization for Newport and Bristol Counties, announced today a record-breaking 39 burgers have tossed their buns in the ring for the coveted “best burger” crown.

Newport County’s most savory burger competition, the Newport Burger Bender, returns Feb. 14 to 23, 2020. Occurring in tandem with the Newport Winter Festival, the Burger Bender promises to warm both the heart and palate. 

While the tasty tenets of the Burger Bender that people have come to know and love for the past three years will remain the same, there are some changes this year. For the first time ever, restaurants have been permitted to submit two burgers if they so choose: one beef-based burger and one plant-based or non-beef burger (veggie/vegan, turkey, lamb, seafood, etc.). The reason for this addition is to further expand the availability of beef alternatives when it comes to getting your burger fix. As such, the popular vote-driven People’s Choice Award will be given to burgers in each of the two categories: beef and plant-based/non-beef.

Restaurant winners in each category will receive:                                                                  

  • A $500 prize
  • Free registration in the 2020 Fall Newport Restaurant Week ($300 value)
  • A complimentary Featured Listing for 12 months on ($1200 value)
  • The coveted Newport Burger Bender trophy (plus bragging rights)

Chef Christopher Ferris from Saltwater at the Newport Harbor Hotel will be cooking up “Ferris Burger’s Day Off,” an eight-ounce, fire-grilled, ground sirloin burger stuffed with Manchego cheese and topped with sizzling Canadian bacon, pepper jack cheese, a fried egg, pickle chips, onion straws, tomato and Boston Bibb lettuce along with a dash of aioli – all served inside a toasted, buttery, sweet brioche bun. “It would be nice to win and have the bragging rights that your burger won the Burger Bender contest,” said Ferris.

Each burger is being individually photographed and featured on the Newport Burger Bender page on along with a detailed description. Restaurants will also be provided customized menu inserts with their burger entries to promote their creation and encourage customers to order, enjoy and vote.

“Whether messy, meatless or monumental; goopy, grass-fed or with grilled onions; tangy, tart or triple-pattied, we’re expecting our local chefs to be both calculated and creative when it comes to this year’s Burger Bender entries,” said Julie Grant, Discover Digital Marketing Manager and the contest’s organizer in a statement.

Diners can go to the Newport Burger Bender page on to see the entries and descriptions and plan their burger tasting adventure accordingly. Voting will be activated on the page February 14 through February 23. People will also be able to vote onsite at participating restaurants by tagging their burgers on social media with the burger’s custom hashtag. Those who vote online using the burger’s hashtag will be also entered into daily giveaways from Discover Newport.

Both the beef and plant-based/non-beef burgers with the most votes at the end of the contest will be crowned winners. Local media will also be naming their “Critic’s Choice” winners.

Diners simply looking to capture and share their decadent delights can do so on social media with the hashtag #NewportBurgerBender. 

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.