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Caroline’s Cheap Eats

Aug 19, 2014 by Caroline Mosey

I love cooking. I really do. I love scouring recipes, shopping for ingredients, and the therapeutic effect of chopping and dicing in my kitchen alongside a good Pandora station and a glass of wine. LOVE. Truly. Jersey's Cafe Indy Cheesesteak

But sometimes, it's nice to get out and let someone else take care of the chopping and dicing...and dishes. Taking our family of five out to a restaurant can get pricey pretty quickly if we hit the wrong spots, and that's why we have a handful of tried-and-true places that have great food and even greater price points.

Yats is a clear front-runner when it comes to inexpensive and delicious meals. Most plates hover around $5 and I'll let you in on a little secret-they serve rice-and-cheese plates for kids for just a dollar. The atmosphere is fun, laid-back and fast. And we all know that's the essential trifecta when dining out with little ones.

Jersey's Café delivers BIG meals for low prices. Their huge selection of hoagies run in the $8-9 range and seriously fill up the biggest, hungriest man alive, so bring a big appetite! The owner is a New Jersey native and knows a thing or two about deli meats and cheeses. So trust him. The Local Veggie Burger

Bub's Burgers is a great spot for the quintessential "All-American" burgers, fries and shakes we all crave sometimes. It has an energetic vibe and great food, and it won't break the bank. (Unless, of course, you all order a Big Ugly.) 

Greek's Pizzeria is perfect because 1) everyone loves pizza, and 2) Greek's does pizza uniquely well and their breadsticks are delicious. Plus, it's very affordable and they have locations in Carmel, Fishers and Noblesville

Local Eatery & Pub is one of my very favorites for a night out. Don't let the higher price points on their larger entrees scare you away, either. While those options are delicious, you can still enjoy an amazing meal for less cash if you stick with their salads and sandwiches. Many ring in under $10 and offer unique flavor profiles you don't get just anywhere (goat cheese and apple panini sound good?) so it's a still a solid and wallet-friendly bet.

Affordable deliciousness awaits in Hamilton County!

8 Great Things to do the 3rd Weekend of August 2014

Aug 14, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

Try something new this weekend in Hamilton County, Indiana! Dust off those golf clubs, try farm fresh foods, or even try your hand at winning some concert tickets. Find all of those ideas and more in this post. For even more getaway inspiration, check our online calendar of events to see what's coming up. CP Pottery

1. The Indiana State Fair continues through the weekend, and so does the FairTrain! Beat the traffic by riding in style from the Fishers train depot location. It operates on a daily 9-time, round-trip schedule.

2. Visit Conner Prairie this weekend to learn a new skill or check out their historical exhibits. A local favorite, Fermenti Artisan, will guide you through making fermented pickles and sauerkraut. Learn how to preserve the summer vegetables from your garden and even sample some of their best-selling foods in this workshop. There is also a hand building and wood firing pottery class offered on Saturday.  

3. Do you love to paint or have always wanted to give it a try? Then today's your day (or Saturday, really)! Join the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association in painting or photographing the great outdoors at the event, Connor Prairie at Dawn. For more instruction, join the Hamilton East Public Library in Fishers in "One Stroke Painting," a class where you will learn to blend, shade, and highlight, then bring home a finished piece to hang on the wall!   Logan Village Mall shopper

4. Head to the Noblesville Courthouse Square for a weekend of fun! Explore the historic sites, like the Hamilton County Museum of History and the Old Sheriff's Jail, or shop the numerous boutiques and shops! Make sure to be downtown when Cathy Morris performs as a part of the "2014 Music and All That Jazz Concert Series" on Friday.  

5. Experience farm fresh food here in Hamilton County, Indiana. Whether it's a trip to a farmers market, picking your own produce, or chowing down at a local restaurant, you'll love the local flavors. Check out our latest Youtube video for even more inspiration!  

6. Is that the sweet sound of ABBA? No, but it'll be pretty close to the real deal this Friday and Saturday night at Symphony on the Prairie! ABBA tribute band Waterloo will perform all of the hits that'll surely bring some dancing queens out to the dance floor on the prairie.   Prairie View Golf Course Blog

7. Break out the golf clubs for some fun this weekend. Head to Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel on Saturday for their Saturday Series Tournament that's open to all with an IGA handicap. Or try your hand at some of the county's best par 5 holes. Check here for blogger Alan's suggestions for the south nine and north nine of his favorite standout par 5s.

8. If you have a "heart like mine", you'll love the Miranda Lambert concert on Saturday. Be there by 7:30 pm to hear Thomas Rhett perform before Miranda takes the stage at Klipsch Music Center.  

Is rock more your style? Enter to win tickets to see Kiss & Def Leppard LIVE at Klipsch Music Center on August 22. Contest begins at 9 a.m. on August 14, and concludes at 10 a.m. on August 15.  

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Aug 12, 2014 by Alan Hinds

Last month we introduced the South nine of our county's mythical 18 hole course made up from Hamilton County's public access golf courses Par 5's. Now enjoy the North nine. It's our back nine from courses above 146th street.Wood Wind hole 18

Hole 10. "Take It From The Top." The 1st at Forest Park, Noblesville. In 1927, it was the first hole ever played in the county. A scenic tee box encourages a fade to start this reachable dogleg. A miss left or right to a small saucer green is short sided in kidney bean traps.

Hole 11. "Classic Conclusion". The 18th at Wood Wind, Westfield. Heading home to a classic clubhouse backdrop, landing zone bunkers test the player's shots along the way (see green complex). Regardless of score, the end of the round is an unforgettable finish.

Hole 12. "Saint Patrick." The 9th at Purgatory, Noblesville. The clubhouse chimneys provide the tee target for this best as 3-shot hole. A well bunked green falls away. Playing patient along the left side can make opponents green with envy.

Hole 13. "Dead Man's Curve." The 18th at Stony Creek, Noblesville. The tee shot faces an avenue of trees and a blunt dead end that starts the 90 degree second shot uphill. Get the right distance off the tee and it's a clear but long shot to massive green. Go off this route and a battered 18th hole score is found in the wreckage.

Hole 14. "Crescent". The South 2nd at Pebble Brook, Noblesville. Keeping to the outer, right side arc of this curving hole makes a second shot to an easily putt-able green very possible.

Hole 15. "The Adventurer." The 12th at Bear Slide, Cicero. The tee shot has a large landing area and then offers two roads. The low runs along a lake with a better angle to the green. The high is dryer but tougher on the third shot. The road less traveled usually gets a birdie. But which one is it?

Hole 16. "Short-Not So Sweet". The Central 1st at Fox Prairie, Noblesville. While benign in total yardage, a creek cuts the fairway halfway out and a hazard right can catch a tee shot. Up ahead, a cluster of thick trees seem out of play until a "thonk" is heard. A bogey or worse can sour golfer's start.

18th Hole at Purgatory

Hole 17. "Loner." The North 18th at Pebble Brook, Noblesville. The only par 5 on the back nine challenges a tee shot and a right side Lilly pond splashed up against the green makes slicers and faders jumpy as a box of frogs.

Hole 18. "The Gryphon" the 18th at Purgatory, Noblesville. It is a classic risk reward with a wishbone fairway. But go over its center valley, blistered with bunkers, and a down slope kicks your ball to just a mid iron from the green (see split fairway). Close attention to pin locations can yield a closing birdie.

8 Great Things to do the 2nd Weekend of August 2014

Aug 07, 2014 by Erin Vollmer

This is a great weekend to gather friends and family to enjoy a unique event or relax in the great outdoors. The activities range from "planes, trains, and automobiles" to ghosts and pancake breakfasts. Read on and check the Hamilton County, Indiana event calendar to discover an activity that is right for you! Plane

1. This Saturday, join Montgomery Aviation in supporting Down Syndrome Indiana during their Open House that kicks off with the Indy Air Race! This free event will have T-6 Texan rides, a bounce house, face paint, magic, music, great food, a raffle, and a silent auction. This is the 8th year for the event, but the first year in a partnership with the Sport Air Racing League. I should also mention that the forecast predicts raining candy...

2. Free pancakes (yum!) and vintage cars make for a great morning in the park. Giveaways and old-fashioned entertainment continue throughout the day at the Vintage Vehicle Expo at Cool Creek Park & Nature Center this Saturday. Look for our Mobile Tourism Vehicle, Pinny, for more giveaways! 

3. If you "ain't afraid o' no ghost!" visit Westfield during the Historic Underground Railroad Ghost Walk Saturday evening. You will hear tons of stories (and maybe see something paranormal?). Kick-off the spooky weekend with a free viewing of "Ghostbusters".

Aperture Stop Exhibit4. Two artists will be featured in an exclusive unveiling event at the Nickel Plate Arts Campus on Friday night. Leanda Grogan will open an exhibit of watercolor illustrations and Larry Sweazy will celebrate the release of his latest book, "Vengeance at Sundown". The brilliant photographs from the Aperture Stop exhibit will continue to be open for viewing all weekend. 

5. The second Saturday of the month is always a little more artistic in the Carmel Arts and Design District, thanks to the IU Health North Hospital Gallery Walk series. Get a free caricature while listening to the harp, or participate in a scavenger hunt with unique district prizes! 

6. If you are looking for a light-hearted evening, reserve your seats for the Westfield Playhouse Summer Youth Program's production. You can see 2 one-act plays in which you will learn how to survive a "zombie apocalypse" and see a "Seussified" version of the romantic classic, Romeo and Juliet.  

7. There is always great music in Hamilton County! Klipsch Music Center has a full schedule this weekend with REO Speedwagon and Chicago, Drake vs. Lil Wayne, and the Under the Influence of Music Tour. Marsh Symphony on the Prairie presents the John Denver Songbook. Check out the Amphitheatre or Witten Park in Fishers for free, high-energy concerts.  white rive canoe perspective

8. Take a break to enjoy time with the people you love. Whether it's gathering around the campfire on National S'mores Day, riding to the State Fair on the FairTrain, or floating down the White River under the summer sun, you are sure to have a great day catching up with one another.  

Speaking of getting people together, Miranda Lambert is going to be rocking Klipsch Music Center with thousands of fans on August 16!  Enter to win tickets here:

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Behind the Scenes: The Making of the Big Ugly Burger

Aug 05, 2014 by Sarah Buckner


Big Ugly Patty

22 ounces of ground chuck. A half pound of bun. A plate garnished with fresh toppings. Three slices of melted cheese. Put it all together and you have... The Big Ugly Burger.

Grilling the Big Ugly

Since May of 2003, Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream has been a local staple in the Carmel Arts & Design District. SettledBig Ugly toppings along the Monon Trail, the local eatery has fed TV personalities like Adam Richman, visitors, and locals (which of course includes the Hamilton County Tourism staff). Their claim to fame is the Big Ugly Burger, a one-pound burger cooked to order and sure to satisfy.

Just yesterday, I was able to sneak into the kitchen and watch them create the masterpiece. The chefs begin with a 22-ounce patty of ground chuck (which cooks down to a full pound) seasoned with a secret blend of spices (I tried, and failed, to figure out the mix), and toss it on the grill for eight to 10 minutes.

While the meat sizzled on the grill, I watched as one cook lightly toasted a custom sized, fresh baked bun, and a prep chef filled a plate with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion. Cheese is optional, but if you make the Big Ugly a cheeseburger, three slices cheese top your burger. I definitely went with cheddar cheese for my meal.


Big Ugly Wall of Fame

While I waited for the burger to cook, I had a chance to ask one of the managers, Amanda, how guests can make the Big Ugly their own. Some add something as simple as sautéed mushrooms, while others go all out and add a treat called Sloppy Waffles - a mix of waffle fries, melted cheese, bacon, and sour cream. I also learned that while the Big Ugly is the big draw, the quarter pound "Settle-for-Less" burger is their highest seller, so there is a burger available to fit all appetites. 

Big Ugly Plate

Once my cook, Pascual, finished the burger, he sent me back to my seat and my awesome server, Carla, brought the dish out to my table. I stared in awe for a moment and then... I took a bite... YUM.

Guests who are able to finish the entire Big Ugly get their photo placed on the wall - I am sad to say that I left WITHOUT having my picture taken for the wall of fame! 

For more details on Bub's Burgers, and all of the other delicious places to dine, download the Visit Hamilton County app or check out the restaurant page on the site!



Sarah w Big Ugly


8 Great Things to Do The 1st Weekend of August 2014

Jul 31, 2014 by Erin Vollmer

Another weekend is here at last! It's time to enjoy the company of friends and family or do some exploring on your own. Shop, dine, and listen to great music. Make sure to look at the event calendar before planning your weekend excursion in Hamilton County, Indiana. Historic Noblesville Square

1. A lot is happening on the Historic Noblesville Square this weekend! First Friday kicks off August with a special "Back to School Bash," so if you have kids, this event is tailored to you. Hotdogs and ice cream, live music, and a dunk tank will fill the square. If you want something a little more sophisticated, go to the open house at Nickel Plate Arts Campus just down the street. Saturday, go to Art Fair on the Square to view and buy unique art and enjoy a hands-on activity area.  

2. Klipsch Music Center always has the good shows! Saturday, spend time with your favorite Aussie, Keith Urban, along with Jerrod Niemann Peter Framptonand Brett Eldredge on August 2nd. OneRepublic and The Script take the stage on August 3rd.   

3. Peter Frampton, one of the most celebrated guitarists in rock history, will perform in the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts on August 3rd. If you aren't sure that this will be one of the greatest concerts that you've been to, a few notes from his guitar will have you eating Humble Pie (like the legendary group that he founded!).   

4. Look through unique items for a great deal! Artichoke Designs' Annual Backroom Sale runs through August 9, so be sure to stop in and shop this annual event. Top designer brands will be featured for up to 50% off their lowest price. Also, find antiques and vintage inspired goods from The Old Picket Fence Floor to Ceiling Sale from August 1-2.  

5. There are plenty of opportunities to listen to music in the great outdoors this weekend, in addition to the usual free outdoor concerts that happen each week. Enjoy a Fishers Music Works and Wind Symphony concert on Saturday in the Nickel Plate District. Cynthia Lane stars in the last Jazz on the Monon concert Saturday night in Carmel and the Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform for Marsh Symphony on the Prairie. 

6. Do you have what it takes to battle waves of up to 30 mph? This Saturday, the Monon Community Center hosts a surfing competition for pros and amateurs on their attraction, the FlowRider. FairTrain

7. Ride in style to the Indiana State Fair on the Indiana Transportation Museum FairTrain! Starting August 1st, it operates on a 9 time, round-trip schedule with the first departure from Fishers at 8:45 am every day. 

8. Act like a local, and eat like one, too! Check out the list of nearby restaurants or use the new app to find them on the go. If you like cars, head to downtown Noblesville during the Saturday Night Cruise-In and eat at one of the restaurants around the square before admiring classic cars.  

Kickin’ Back at Klipsch

Jul 30, 2014 by Erin Vollmer

KMC gates- ErinI went to Klipsch Music Center for a last minute concert last week. One thing is for sure- Lady Antebellum owned the night (along with Joe Nichols and Billy Currington)! I had never been to Klipsch for a concert, but I loved the facility and the atmosphere created by the artists and the outdoor amphitheater. The lawn wasn't just a field where you would have to stand on your toes to get a glimpse of any action, it was set on a hill where we could sit and still see the stage. Of course, once the main show started, everyone stood from excitement!

I took my friend Elizabeth, who had just gotten back from Texas and was loving the "Sunny and 75°" weather. Even though Texas is in the Deep South, she mentioned that there were hardly any country music concerts there, but that Klipsch has tons of big names in country come each year. GiGi's at KMC

We arrived around 7:15 and there was still a lot of great lawn space available (most people were still tailgating in the parking lot). Everything was easy to find because there were buildings for everything and obvious signage- the venue was definitely built for concerts.

The food and drink sold there were quite pricey, but that's to be expected. Klipsch does allow unopened bottles of water and small bags of food, so we brought take-out and ate during the opening numbers. There were also a few food vendors that sold treats for a reasonable price, like Gigi's Cupcakes.

Crowd at KMC- ErinThe space filled up quickly and we unintentionally started a Snapchat scavenger hunt for our friends that were also at the concert. I had sent a snap of the show from our viewpoint, and my friend sent one back showing that she was there too! With a capacity of 24,000 people, it isn't that unusual that we knew other people there!

The concert itself was remarkable. The musical groups complemented each other well and Lady Antebellum even called Billy Currington and Joe Nichols back on stage to sing one of my favorite throwback country songs, "It's a Great Day to be Alive", by Travis Tritt. They all acted like a family and kept up the energy throughout the show. The video screens and lighting were creative, and multiple staging areas let the band perform from all over the amphitheater. One of my favorite parts was when the audience raised their cell phones and lit up the night. Lady A at KMC- Erin

I was very impressed by the ease and convenience of parking at the venue. The parking staff had everything so organized that we got out of the lot in about 5 minutes, even after staying for the encore.

Overall, I had a great experience and I hope to return for another concert soon!

Want to see a concert for yourself at Klipsch Music Center?  Enter to win tickets to the Chicago & REO Speedwagon show!  Winner will be announced on Thursday, July 31.

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Summer Bucket List

Jul 29, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

With summer sadly coming to a close much sooner than anyone would care to admit, it's time to fit in as much summer fun as possible before school starts! Our staff has shared some great ideas so your family has to spend less time wondering what to do, and more time enjoying the sunshine. From ice cream runs to outdoor adventures, this list has all the ingredients that make up summer fun in Hamilton County, Indiana! Handel's in Fishers

Sarah- "Although I like Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt year around, it's especially great during the summer. They usually have coupons available - an extra incentive. Nothing beats "Graham Central Station" on a hot day or night. Or, if I'm really craving ice cream, their 4 scoop sample is divine."

Ashley- "Exploring the parks - you can't go wrong with splash pads, trails and the great outdoors. Most are FREE!"

Karen- "The Fair Train is always on my family's summer bucket list, we have been every year for the past 18 years! And the Cool Creek Park concert series is always a must. Normally we supplement with a big concert at Klipsch Music Center or Symphony on the Prairie too. Finally, a family boat trip on Morse combined with a backyard cookout was on the list this summer, and we checked it off." 

KMC longSarah B.- "Pint Room is definitely on my list- I must go sample a few beers at this cool new place in the Carmel Arts & Design District. The kids have already done so many fun things this summer; Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, a Fairy Tea Party, and so much else - but this summer they are also so excited to play mini golf at Ben & Ari's in Fishers for the first time ever!"

Kate- "I'd stop by the Fishers Farmers Market for breakfast, lunch, a snack or even just a bottle of homemade ranch dressing! Vendors sell everything from waffles to egg rolls to fresh produce - and most readily give out samples. I also must see a concert at Klipsch! The lawn allows for space to kick back and relax or dance under a gorgeous Indiana sunset while listening to some of your favorite artists."

Kara- "Our family has our own summer bucket list going, here's a sample of what's on it:

The Waterpark at the Monon Center Lazy River Monon Community Center Waterpark

Picking berries at Spencer Farm

$1 movies at the Hamilton 16 IMAX

Kids camps at Bath Junkie

Nature hikes at Ritchey Woods

Outdoor dining & shopping at Hamilton Town Center

Events at the Fishers Nickel Plate Amphitheater

Finding a Kona Ice truck for a cool treat."

Emma- "Symphony on the Prairie is always in my summer plans. I usually organize a group of friends or family, pack a picnic (including wine!), and arrive early to grab a spot with a great view of the stage at Conner Prairie. This year I've added a canoe trip on White River to my bucket list too."

Have more ideas for this list of summer fun? Let us know what's on YOUR summer bucket list!

8 Great Things to Do The Last Weekend in July 2014

Jul 24, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

The calendar is loaded with fun and unique experiences for the next few days, so make sure to take full advantage of this last weekend in July. Theatre and music are the stars of this weekend, so make sure to plan ahead and get tickets. Remember to check the event calendar to get the scoop, because there are still great things to do that aren't mentioned below. Okay, this just might be the best weekend we've had in a while! Palladium Interior

1. I just need you now... (tickets to the Lady A concert, that is!) Tonight's concert at Klipsch Music Center is sure to draw crowds. Try to snag some lawn seats and sing along! On Friday and Saturday, the great music continues at Marsh Symphony on the Prairie. This weekend's concert pays tribute to the famous English group, The Beatles.

2. There are so many music events this weekend that they couldn't fit into one section! If you haven't been to Carmel's musical gem, The Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, get seats to the "Great American Songbook High School Vocal Competition". Also in Carmel, Jazz on the Monon returns to feature music by touring jazz artist, Monika Herzig. Make sure to arrive early to get pizza from Bazbeaux to enjoy during the concert.  

3. Just gotta kick loose! Get tickets for the opening weekend of Footloose at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre. This weekend is also the start for the Belfry Theatre's Godspell performance plus "I Married An Angel" continues from Carmel Community Players.

4. The longest running outdoor Shakespearean event of Central Indiana starts its 21st season this weekend. Go to Seminary Park in Noblesville on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the free showings of Shakespeare's "As You Like It". Shakespeare in the Park is always complete with full costumes and sets, so it's sure to impress.  Shakespeare in the Park Video

5. This weekend is also a great time to learn a new skill at a historic location. Conner Prairie offers many opportunities to learn a cultural craft. This weekend, visit Lenape Indian Camp and discover how beads were an important part of the fur trade and piece together an attractive bracelet to take home. There is also the option to create your own beads out of clay at this "make and take" activity.

6. Salads are a refreshing meal for summer, but it is easy to get stuck in a rut with the same recipe. Gisela Reibel, Master Gardener and Charter Member of the Indianapolis Herb Society, can help with that! Learn her secrets of creating "Savory Summer Salads" tonight at The Historic Ambassador House. Light snacks, along with samplings of her creations, are provided. The best part is that it's only $5 or free for garden club members!  

7. FREE MOVIES! Make sure to visit Asa Bales Park Friday night for a free double feature! Bring lawn chairs and popcorn to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (PG) and Man of Steel (PG-13) in the park. Parking is available at Westfield High School. 

8. All aboard! Both of the Indiana Transportation Museum's main train excursions are happening this weekend, The Blue Arrow, and The Hoosierland. Each train takes a different path, but they are both great ways to explore the county and find new favorite places! 

Make your weekend even better by entering to win some tickets to see either Keith Urban OR OneRepublic at Klipsch Music Center!  Winners will be announced Friday, July 25.

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Sarah's Cheap Eats

Jul 22, 2014 by Sarah Buckner

Rosie's French ToastLike so many foodies I know, when I go out to eat, I love to keep it local, delicious, and wallet friendly. Hamilton County has no shortage of restaurants that fit this description, but my current obsession is Rosie's Place. Located on the historic Noblesville Square, Rosie's Place offers incredible breakfast and lunch options for a price that doesn't break the bank. 

Warm and inviting, this quaint eatery welcomes people of all ages - which is perfect for my two young kids and me. Looking for something fun to do on a Saturday, I recently took them for a walk around the Square, where we window-shopped before stopping into Rosie's for brunch.

We were seated quickly, and as a huge fan of eggs benedict, I ordered the Farm Style version of this classic breakfast treat. The entrée comes covered in sausage gravy and served with a side of Treats at Rosie's Placecountry potatoes. Oh my, it was so delicious, I may not be able to change my order during my next visit. Christopher is a picky eater, but is a huge fan of French toast, and ate every last bite of his cinnamon dipped, powdered sugar covered meal while Emily happily sat in her chair and munched on a hot ham and cheese sandwich.
The service was great and everything came out warm and fast, so the little ones didn't have a chance to get wiggly in their seats, which is a rare gift to all parents. Another gift was the bill; the entire family was able to eat a great, local meal for less than $30.

The only trouble that we encountered was the dessert display as you walk out the door. Finding yourself eye to eye with some of the tastiest looking homemade desserts is troublesome, even with a full stomach. SO, as we paid the bill I somehow ended up adding three cupcakes to my tab.

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