Tenth 'Taste' aims to please palates
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
WEST SPRNGFIELD Other communities may have lost their appetites for annual celebrations of quality dining and entertainment but the West Side Taste of the Valley Committee still hungers for more.
The 10th annual West Side Taste of the Valley - the only event of its kind left in the area - to benefit the Rotary Club will take place June 11 through 14 on the Town Common. This year's Taste will feature an eclectic mix of food from 15 restaurants, live entertainment from 12 bands, the Saturday Cruise and family-friendly entertainment.
"This is still the greatest [event] with [the most] unique venue for West Springfield," Mayor Edward Gibson said. "It's like a homecoming [for] people to enjoy West Springfield hospitality."
Derek Benton, president of the West Springfield Rotary Club, told Reminder Publications that this year's Taste has been the most challenging to assemble due to the economic downturn. He added that the club is still expecting up to 40,000 people to attend, however.
"Sponsorship is down this year," Benton said. "It will be rough [to raise money] this year."
The Rotary Club raises approximately $19,000 each year at the Taste and redistributes the funds toward community events and scholarships.
Noreen Tassinari, publicity chair for the Rotary Club, explained that this year's Taste features international flavors that will tantalize any gastronomist including golumpki, eggplant verde and sushi in addition to the all-American fare including hamburgers and fried dough.
Area restaurants and vendors participating include Angelo's, Ben & Jerry's, Bottega Cucina, Carol's Concessions, The Good Table, Jonathan's, Mamma Mia's Pizzeria, Millie's Pierogi, Moolicious, Pintu's Indian Palace, The Runway by B'Shara's, Thai Taste, Tokyo Asian Cuisine, The Ultimate BBQ and West Springfield High School's Wrestling Booster Club.
Leonardo Alfarone, a chef at Mamma Mia's Pizzeria, and Jean Chen, co-owner of Tokyo Asian Cuisine, both agreed that the Taste is the premier event to gain exposure for their businesses and alternative foods.
Live entertainment from Brothers-By-Law, Blues Deluxe Band, the John Brandoli Band, the Time Trippers, Fendline, SPF-4, Brass Attack of Springfield, Double Play Plus, Bennie and the Jets, Dan Kane and Friends, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts R&B Band and Eight to the Bar will take place on two stages throughout the weekend.
Family-friendly entertainment will include the Saturday Cruise of vintage vehicles on Park Street; a petting zoo of exotic animals; face painting; and tours of the Old Day House courtesy of the Ramapogue Historical Society.
For a complete schedule of events, visit the Taste's Web site, www.westsidetaste.com