A new venue and a blessing from the weather were highlights of conversations at the 10th annual Taste of Blount Thursday night, Sept. 22, as crowds enjoyed a smorgasbord of food from 22 restaurants, caterers and grocers. Sponsored by the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Taste of Blount offered the crowds ample food, tea and soft drinks.
Held for the first time at the Theater in the Park on the Maryville Greenbelt and featuring the band 3CD on stage, Taste of Blount faced humid weather, but the rain stopped just before the gates opened at 6 p.m. and held off through the end of the event at 8 p.m. The popular event brings different restaurants from the community into one location as a fundraiser for the Blount Partnership.
Bryan Daniels, Blount Partnership president and CEO, said event organizers were happy with the new location for Taste of Blount. “We’ve been very pleased at the increased attention and increased size of the venue with Taste of Blount.”
Terri Cross Curtis, chairperson for the Taste of Blount, said the annual event went well at its new site. “A lot of people came back through as they were voting and said how much they liked the new space and that this was the best Taste of Blount ever,” she said.
Curtis said folks seemed to enjoy the variety of vendors and food. “We had several new ones. It also seemed the vendors prepared a lot of food because people were carrying out little doggy bags,” she said. “Everybody seemed to really enjoy it despite the threat of rain and the previous cloud burst before we opened the gates. Everyone like how open it was. You had more room to move around and didn’t feel herded into one area.”
Votes from the guests were tallied the evening of the event, and the winners are:
Best Appetizer: Lemon Grass
Best Presentation: Food City
Best Beverage: Vienna Coffee
Best Main Course: Jamaica Sunrise
Best Sandwich: Smoky Mountain Brewery
Best Dessert: Sweetheart Sweets Bakery
Best All Around: Lemon Grass
Participants were Bread of Heaven Catering, Chick-fil-A, Food City Maryville, El Sazon Mexicano Restaurant, Full Service BBQ, Honey Baked Ham, Jamaica SunRise, Kroger Alcoa, Lemon Grass of Maryville, Lenny’s Sub Shop, Marlin & Rays, Miss Lily’s Café & Catering, Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, Panera Bread, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, Silverspoon Express @ Maryville College, Sweetheart Sweets Bakery, Smoky Mountain Brewery, Something Savory Bakery & Cafe, StoneHouse Pizza, The Miles Family 411 Restaurant and Vienna Coffee.
The Blount County Mayor, Ed Mitchell, was on hand to sample the offerings. “I like it, this is great,” said Mayor Mitchell. “There’s a lot more room and more space for people to socialize.”
Fran Bennett felt the same way. “I love it here. It is so much better and not as crowded,” she said.
Mindy Boudreau and Kathy Johnson from CBBC said they enjoyed the annual event and had their favorites. “I liked Bread of Heaven best, and I thought Food City had the best display,” Johnson said.
Stephanie Trost from Maryville was at Taste of Blount with two William Blount High School exchange students Elin Soderlund of Sweden and Vivian Gran from Norway. Gran enjoyed the nachos from Salsaritas, and Soderlund enjoyed the food at Lemon Grass. “We grazed three times back and forth,” Trost said. “I think Vienna Coffee has the best presentation with his fall decorations. I liked the food at Jamaican Sunrise. It was real tasty.”
Matt Hearon of Maryville couldn’t just pick one. “I liked the barbecue and ribs from Bread of Heaven and everything at Miss Lily’s was excellent.”
Lisa Hood Skinner said she enjoyed the Thai cuisine. “Everything at Lemon Grass was wonderful. For presentation, I liked the wedding cakes at Food City and the treats at Something Savory,” she said.
The Rev. Steve Musick, associate pastor of Outreach at New Providence Presbyterian Church, said he enjoyed the food at Bread of Heaven, and he thought the presentation was best at Miss Lily’s. The new venue was a plus for Musick and his wife, Lynne, as they strolled through the park. “You get to wander around and try the food with ease from all the different restaurants,” said Steve.