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'Taste' Event Has Home In New Venue

Some Lament Changes Since Move From Hartford, Others Find Comfort In What's New And What Hasn't Changed

June 13, 2005
By HILDA MUÑOZ, Courant Staff Writer

The food was still good, but some patrons and vendors at the Taste of Greater Hartford Sunday said more than the event's name and location have changed.

The outdoor food and entertainment festival, formerly known as the Taste of Hartford, had its home in downtown Hartford for 22 years. This year, it moved from Constitution Plaza to East Hartford's town green.

Jim Caldwell, sitting at a picnic table on Sunday, the festival's last day, preparing to bite into Thai chicken on a stick, said this year's event was smaller.

"In Hartford there was a lot more space, they had a lot more booths," said Caldwell, 53, who had attended the Taste of Hartford at least six times in the past.

"This is more like a fledgling operation, like it's just starting, and it's going to take a few years to grow," he said.

Alyce Adams, 45, of West Hartford, said she enjoyed her plate of noodles and chicken, but lamented the lack of variety this year.

"We were just talking about that, we were saying there were more choices ... more international food. I don't see Spanish food," said Adams, who was about to buy ice cream. "Don't get me wrong, all the choices here are good, but that's what it is about - tasting food."

A smaller turnout is to be expected when a venue changes location, said Suzanne Myler, an event coordinator with K&M Productions. She suggested that many people stayed home because of the heat.

K&M productions opted to move the Taste of Hartford after the Greater Hartford Arts Council, which held the license for the event, canceled the event.

On Sunday, families spread out on grass, watching dancers perform in a gazebo. Couples sat on benches eating ice cream, and small lines formed at the booths.

Myler said she sees potential for the new site, pointing out the free parking nearby, the park setting, the benches and picnic tables and the children's rides that were unable to go up at Constitution Plaza.

"We're really excited we could let it continue instead of letting [it] die," said Myler. "We're actually more excited to be here because it's a park-like setting for families."

Andra Cole, 36, of Springfield, said finding parking for the event in East Hartford was easier and she liked having the patches of grass and tables to sit on. At Constitution Plaza, she said, people "basically sat on the sidewalk" to eat.

Other than that, she said, the event is the same.

"I don't think much has changed," said Cole.

But Dameon LeBrun, of the Cookhouse Café in East Hartford, said he didn't dish out as much barbecue this year as in the previous three years he worked as a vendor at the Taste of Hartford.

"It was a lot busier because we had all the office building workers during the day and a lot of them would come down for lunch ... [and] sometimes return with their families," he said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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