Approximately 30 restaurants, caterers, bakeries, farmers’ markets and wineries will showcase American, Asian, Italian, Mexican and vegetarian cuisine. This year’s participants will include Acapulco Grill, Adair Vineyards, Aroma Thyme Bistro, Baba Louie’s, Caribbean Cuisine, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Elsie’s, EveL’s Sweets, Gomen Kudasai, Gourmet Pizza, Main Course, Main Street Bistro, Mohonk Mountain House, Neko Sushi, P&G’s, Pasquale’s, Ship Lantern Inn, Hurds Family Farm, Tantillo’s Farm, Wright’s Farm and more.
“If you’ve been meaning to try ‘that restaurant,’ here’s your chance. Our restaurants are going to be showcasing the best of what they have to offer. It’s like a culinary premier,” said Chamber of Commerce President Joyce Minard.
Complementing the chefs are a wide variety of exhibits and activities for the whole family to enjoy, including: Artistic Taste, highlighting local painters, sculptors and photographers exhibiting their creations; Craft Expo, with handcrafted textiles, ceramics, jewelry and more; Business Expo, featuring raffles and specialty swag from local purveyors of goods and services; Wellness and Recreation Expo, for sports and health information and demonstrations; crafts and games at Kids’ Expo; edible goods-to-go at the Country Store; live music from local bands The Trapps and The Sweet Clementines, and acoustic act Peter Morrison; and demonstrations by New Paltz Karate and Ignite Fitness, as well as on-site butter churning, rug making and quilting. Visitors are welcome to bring a small antique to be appraised at the Antiques Tent.
“What better way to entice new or repeat business than having people take a bite of your food, while looking at a menu or sipping wine, being able to buy a bottle and then get a map of the Shawangunk Wine Trail,” said event co-chair Kathy Combs, owner of 36 Main Restaurant in New Paltz. “In the business expo a potential customer is able to speak to the business owner, swap business cards and hear about their options. Whether it be real estate, a dog fence, banking options or sign your child up for Karate, the opportunities are abundant. It is rare to be able to reach out to 7,500 people in one afternoon.”
Since its inception in 1991, the Taste of New Paltz has quintupled in size. The concept was created by Chamber member Linda Babb as a combination of the New Paltz Plaza spring business expo and the Main Street fall fair, which closed downtown to traffic for an October afternoon. Being as it was the height of fall foliage season, the popular event was soon backing up traffic onto the Thruway, said Minard.
“Linda came up with the idea of a Taste of New Paltz because we didn’t want to do your typical business expo. Most business expos are business-to-business. Our diverse membership skewed more towards music, crafts, artists, wineries, farm markets -- and we’re so known for all of our different restaurants. We really wanted to capitalize on the flavor -- a taste of our quality of life,” she said.
The Chamber hoped to have 500 people at their first event, held at Rivendell Winery. They got 1,500.
“We were recruiting volunteers off the street to help park cars,” said Minard.
The event has only grown in popularity. At its zenith several years ago, the Taste attracted 10,000 -- and takes hundreds of volunteers to ensure that the day runs smoothly.
More than 40 volunteers, led by admissions director Carol Roper, sell entrance and food tickets, and circulate among the crowd, helping to direct pedestrian traffic and keep food lines short. They are joined by students from SUNY-New Paltz, who help with setup, traffic control, handing out programs and breaking down tables at the day’s end. Young adults from the New Paltz Youth Program form the clean-up crew. The New Paltz Police Department runs the Kids’ Expo and New Paltz High School Honor Society students help with children’s activities. A staff of volunteer cashiers make change and count the money.
“Everyone pitches in and really helps us in support of our business community. It’s like a way of saying thanks. It’s a good thing,” said Minard.
Eve Prince, owner of EveL’s Sweets, sees participation in the Taste of New Paltz as beneficial for both business and the community.
“One, I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce and this is their largest fundraiser of the year, and I really wanted to be able to give back because they’ve been really helpful to me. Two, it’s a fantastic way for me to get my name out there and for people to get a sample of what I have to offer,” she said.
This will be Prince’s first year at the Taste. She personally plans to serve sweet treats from her gluten- and nut-free dessert lines.
“People rave about the Taste of New Paltz all year long, so I’m really excited to be a part of it this year. I used to be a performer, so I really love getting out and being in front of people. I think it’s going to be fantastic,” she said.
The interface between business owners and consumers is what makes the event so popular, said Combs.
“The Taste is successful because of the personal touch. The participants are able to bring forth the best aspect of their business and let it shine. A truly successful Taste is when you generate a new customer. When they walk in your door after sampling your wares at the Taste. Then you know it works,” she said.
Advance tickets and admission packages for the Taste of New Paltz are on sale now. Admission is $3 in advance, $5 at the door. Children 12 and under are admitted free. A package deal includes one admission, 10 “taste” tickets, and a Taste of New Paltz T-shirt for $20.
The Ulster County Fairgrounds at located on Libertyville Road in New Paltz.
The event will be held 11 a.m. ti 5 p.m., rain or shine.
For more information, call (845) 255-0243 or visit www.tasteofnewpaltz.com or the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce office at 257 Main St. in New Paltz.