A ‘taste’ of something different

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Taste of Shelby undergoes big changes

By Lisa King


A feast by any other name would taste as sweet, as Shelby County Chamber of Commerce officials will set out to prove this year.

The chamber’s main fund-raiser, now in its 24th year, will have a new name – Tastes and Tunes – when it rolls around in September.

And not only the name will be new, but many other aspects of the event will be changed – for the better, Chamber Executive Directory Shelley Goodwin said.

“We are going for a whole new concept,” she said.

In addition to the event’s new name, the location also will change this year.

“For the past six or seven years, we have held it at Claudia Sanders Dinnerhouse, and that worked out very nicely, but we want to give it a fresh feel this year,” Goodwin said.

Tastes and Tunes will be held at the Shelby County Fairgrounds, she said, to reinforce its new family atmosphere and kid-friendly image.

“We want to get away from the formal feel with the theme-oriented dress and make it more of a community event, with a picnic-like atmosphere,” she said. “We have been having themes for dress codes, like last year it was tail-gating, and we have had luaus and even western dress, but now we just want it be casual dress.”

Even the music will be different, Goodwin said, with two bands this year, each offering different music, to give people more variety, because she realizes that not everyone likes the same kinds of music.

“We haven’t confirmed any bands yet, but we want to have something more laid back, maybe some jazz and some southern rock.”


Good food still main focus

Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty, who has always attended the event, said he doesn’t care what he wears or what kind of music is featured, as long as the food is good.

“Well, I’ll be there, looking forward to some good food; as long as that stays the same, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as much as I always have,” he said.

Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger echoed Hardesty’s enthusiasm for the coming event.

“I am planning to attend, and I enjoy the diversity of foods available and meeting new small businesses that use this venue to make everyone aware of their business and or service,” he said.

Goodwin said the public can rest assured the food this year will measure up to the standards that have come to be expected of the event, with at least 21 restaurants represented, featuring everything from barbecued ribs to rich pastas to decadent desserts.

“We will still offer a wide variety of food options; we plan to have the same food vendors that we have in the past, and we’ll even have a couple of food-oriented surprises,” she said.

One pleasant surprise this year will be a reduced admission price.

In the past, tickets ranged from $30 to $35, depending on when and how the ticket was purchased.

“This year it will be just a straight twenty dollars, across the board,” Goodwin said. “And children 10 years and younger will be admitted free, something else we’ve never done before.”

The only stipulation is that children must be accompanied by a paying adult, who must also bring a food item to be donated to the Shelby County Backpack Program. Monetary donations are also welcomed but not required.


Event to benefit children

Christy Meredith, coordinator of the backpack program, said that any non-perishable food items are welcome, because the children who will receive them are always grateful for any kind of food.

She added that she is very glad the event will benefit the 270 school children the program serves in Shelby County.

“I can’t say enough about how much these kids do depend on this food,” she said. “To see them get so excited about a can of ravioli or Vienna sausages, well, it’s just a very worthwhile project.”

In addition to benefiting children, Goodwin said it is hoped that the event’s facelift will boost its sagging revenues.

“It has gone from being very successful to just not having the profit margin we used to see, so we hope that these changes will make it more appealing to the community,” she said.

Along with all the changes, Goodwin said one thing won’t change – the abundance of good food and drink (yes, the cash bar still will be offered).

Also, the event will be held on the same day and time as last year.

Tastes and Tunes will be Sept. 13 with gates opening at 5 p.m.

Tickets will go on sale in August at the Chamber of Commerce, located at the Cardwell House at 316 Main St. Call 633-1636 for more information.