By Jolene Craig
Special to the Times
PARKERSBURG Thousands of people filled Bicentennial Plaza and the Blennerhassett Hotel parking lot on Saturday to enjoy food, wine and beer in the seventh annual Taste of Parkersburg.
"I'm new in town and saw this event as great exposure," said Bobby Pierce, owner of Hometown Cake. "It's a great event that seems to really get the community out."
Cecil Childress, general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel and one of the event organizers, said this year's Taste of Parkersburg was one of the largest with 16 food and 25 wine and beer vendors participating.
"We kept the same format but have added more variety," he said.
Participating restaurants included Angelos Great Steak Grill, Blacksmith Barbecue Shack, Cafe Blue, Chams, Da Vinci's, El Mariachi, Fishbone, The Galley, Holl's Chocolates, Hometown Cake, Lui Lui, Mango Latin Bistro, The Polo Club, Spats at The Blennerhassett, Tampico Mexican Restaurant and Third Street Deli.
Wine and beer vendors included Alexander Valley Vineyards, Bouchaine, Capital Beverage, Clos Du Val, Constellation Wines, Falcor, Hahn Family Wines, Kobrand, Kysela, Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, San Francisco Wine Exchange, Simon-N-Cellars, Stone Road Vineyard, Toscano In Appalachia Wines, Wine Tree Vinyards, Vineyard Brands, Vu Ja De Vineyards, Wente Vineyards, Wine Connection, The Wine Group, NET Brewery and Winesellers.
"What makes this event so different is that it is all about our local businesses," said artist Katy Ferguson who was representing the Parkersburg Art Center. "It's just a great community gathering and it shows visitors what we have to offer and hopefully it will bring them back and they'll bring friends."
Childress said that by not having chain restaurants participate in the event, it is more unique to Parkersburg.
"The Taste of Parkersburg features what is different and special about us," he said.
Childress added that the pre-sale for tickets this year was larger than previous years.
"We pre-sold 1,000 tickets and are on pace to have 2,500 or more people here tonight," he said Saturday evening.
This is the last time the event will be a close to the summer season, as Taste of Parkersburg organizers have chosen to move the 2013 event to May 31 and June 1.
"By having it the week after Memorial Day, I think we can get even stronger participation from vendors and the public," Childress said.