Plan to let out at least one notch on your belt at the Taste of UA.
Organizers from the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce are making this year’s event, 3:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 8, bigger and better than ever.
“Last year we had 30 to 40 food vendors, and my goal is to have more than that this year,” says Administrative Events Coordinator Teresa Conway. The Chamber expects upwards of 130 total vendors.
In addition, the chamber has a temporary permit to allow alcohol in a designated area within Northam Park, 2070 Northam Rd. Last year, a beer garden was set up offsite at St. Agatha Catholic Church. This year, a tented tasting room called the Ohio Craft Bier Garten will be on site sponsored by the Daily Growler.
The entertainment stage, with an entertainment lineup set by Vaughan Music Studios, will be close to the festival’s entrance. Conway expects the Buckeye Mobile Tour, which brings Ohio State-themed games and inflatables, will generate a lot of excitement as well.
“Brutus will be there and the Buckeye cheerleaders,” she says. “John Cooper will also be there signing autographs, so we’ll have a strong Ohio State presence.”
Vendor judging will take place at 5:30 p.m., with a celebrity-packed crew of judges awarding first, second and third place honors to the best appetizers, entrées and desserts.
Tina Elsea, co-owner of perennial Taste of UA favorite Caffé DaVinci, has been part of the event since its start -- originally with her family’s DaVinci Ristorante.
“It was always a big gathering of friends and community people, … something we always looked forward to,” says Elsea, adding that the Taste has grown immensely in the last 20 years.
It was instrumental in helping launch Caffé DaVinci, which she and her husband, Kim, started in 2006. The couple brought their Tutti Frutti gelato, a mixed berry flavor, to the event before the new restaurant had even opened -- and won a first place ribbon.
“We had to get a special license to participate,” Elsea says. “We were starting to introduce gelato, and we brought it to the Taste of UA. It was awesome. People loved it.”
Elsea and the Caffé DaVinci crew have a surprise up their sleeves for this year’s event -- a new dish Elsea worked on this spring with her cousin who visited from Italy.
“The Upper Arlington community is amazing,” Elsea says. “They become your family. It’s a lot of fun.”
Conway agrees that the people are part of what make the Taste of UA such a hit year after year.
“Come out for the food, for the music and for the community,” Conway says. “It’s such a wonderful event.”
Admission to the Taste of UA is free; vendors set their own prices for sample-sized goodies.