Rain goes away and crowds come for dinner at Taste of Blount

A little thunderstorm can’t keep away hungry fans of the annual Taste of Blount.

The skies opened up and dumped rain on those heading to the event in downtown Maryville Thursday night, but the precipitation didn’t last long enough to discourage patrons of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce sponsored event.

Tammy Ford, executive vice president of the Blount Chamber Partnership, said the turnout was good, and the rain shower that came early and left quickly didn’t affect the crowds.

“At 5 o’clock, there were a lot of folks with umbrellas waiting, and we sold nearly 500 tickets,” Ford said. “The rain didn’t really affect us.”

The overall winner of the Taste of Blount, as determined by those who turned in ballots, was the same as in years past - Lemon Grass restaurant.

Winners of other categories included: Appetizer - Laurel Valley Restaurant; Main Course -Lemon Grass; Sandwich - Full Service BBQ; Dessert - Kathy’s Deli; Beverage first place - McAlister’s Deli, Beverage second place - Vienna Coffee Company and Presentation - Puleo’s Grille. The theme for the 2010 event was “The Art of Food.”

Folks from throughout Blount County turned out to sample the different offerings from 18 different restaurants or stores. Joining the Chamber in organizing the event was the City of Maryville.

Jeff McKliveen of Maryville said it was the first time he had been to Taste of Blount. “It’s really nice. I can see it as something that can grow from year to year,” he said.

Brenda Henderson of Maryville said she enjoyed Laurel Valley Restaurant. “We liked the shrimp and Beef Wellington,” she said.

Eric and Jewell Overton of Blount County had barbecue on his mind. “Full Service Barbecue and Whitt’s Barbecue had good stuff,” he said.

Maryville City councilman Fred Metz said he enjoyed the turnout for the annual event. “It’s a good crowd in spite of the weather,” he said.

Regina Jennings liked Puleo’s Restaurant’s offerings. “Puleo’s had to be my favorite. I loved their spinach dip. The Market also had some great homemade pimento cheese,” she said.

Dr. Steven Watts and Linda Christensen enjoyed the food at Lemon Grass. “Our favorite place in the past has always been Lemon Grass, although Laurel Valley was good, too,” he said.

Joy Hurm of Maryville also stood in line at Puleo’s for their samples. “The shrimp scampi was wonderful, and the spinach dip was out of this world,” she said.

John Huffman of Louisville said Miles 411 Family Restaurant had good food. “They had fried mushrooms and barbecue nachos,” he said.

Bruce McKinnon of Maryville walked around the entire parking lot eyeing the different food samples offered at the different restaurants. “Right now I’m circling like a shark, getting closer and closer, and then I’ll start a feeding frenzy,” he said.

Steve and Ruth West enjoyed checking out the different restaurants. “I like the shrimp scampi at Puleo’s,” Ruth West said. “My favorite desert was the chocolate chip cookies at McAllisters.”

“The macadamia cookies were better,” Steve West said with a laugh.

District Attorney Mike Flynn took time to enjoy the food and fellowship. “I think is the best one yet,” he said. “I may not eat the rest of the week.”

Charlene Desha, executive director of Keep Blount Beautiful, said this was the first year the Chamber had asked the organization to help with recycling. There were volunteers with Keep Blount Beautiful who helped patrons know where to recycle their paper plates and cups.

Restaurants that participated included: Puleo’s Grille, Chik-fil-A of Hunters Crossing, Chili’s, El Sazon, Lemon Grass, Lenny’s Sub Shop, McAllister’s Deli, Panera Bread, Ruby Tuesday of Alcoa, The Market, Full Service BBQ, Honey Baked Ham, Kathy’s Deli, Kroger of Alcoa, Laurel Valley Restaurant, Miles Family 411 Restaurant, Vienna Coffee Co. and Whitt’s Barbecue.

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