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The Taste retools for 2019

'It's like the Taste Edmonds that you loved in the past, but it's even better than that'

 

August 15, 2019

Diana Scheel | Cat in the Moon Photography

Cornole is always popular at Taste Edmonds. There's money to be won, too.

There's one thing that the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce really wants you to know about Taste Edmonds: It's a fundraiser supporting local nonprofit service clubs, as well as free community events such as An Edmonds Kind of 4th and Halloween Trick-or-Treat.

With that in mind, the 37th annual event – which begins Friday and continues through Sunday – has scuttled several changes implemented last year that proved unpopular with some and may have kept others away.

Two of the biggest: The return of the Beatniks and other popular musical mainstays at the Taste, and the return of free admission to the beer and wine garden, which set you back $6 in 2018. (In previous, there has also been a fee to enter the beer garden later in the day.)

Admission has increased, however, to $5 from $3. Remember: fundraiser. So the general admission is going up from three to five, but then you don't have to pay for the beer garden. "People were saying it was confusing," Chamber CEO and President Greg Urban said. "And if people didn't see that and they got in and then they got up to the beer garden, they're like, 'Wait, I gotta pay again?' There will be zero fee for the beer garden this year, and that breaks with tradition for at least the last 10 years. We want people to enjoy themselves, to be able to wander in and wander out."

Here's a look at the Taste's main features, starting with the most important.

The food

As has been stated in years past, Taste Edmonds is not about gobbling down food from Edmonds establishments, although mainstay Kafe Neo is back, and Dojo Togo (the food truck from Shubert Ho and Andrew Leckie of Five Corners' Bar Dojo) is making its debut. Most local restaurants don't have the equipment and personnel to set up for a three-day festival. Besides, they want you to experience their food inside their locations.

But there are 36 food vendors this year, with a variety of food so large you'd need two stomachs, or more, to sample it all, even over three days. There's lobster corn dogs, Korean rice bowls, sushi burritos, barbecue everything, roasted corn, scallops, lobster rolls, gyros, burgers, piroshkis, ice cream, donuts. There's more, but we're running out of space.

The beer and wine garden will feature two food trucks: Moonshine BBQ (back from last year) and Wich Came First (sandwich, get it?).

"Their signature is fried egg sandwiches," Urban said. "Beer and fried egg sandwich? Come on."

Speaking of food trucks – there are more of them than ever this year, which is intentional.

Tented vendors have significantly decreased, by about one-third. Food trucks – increasingly popular in Puget Sound and everywhere else – have taken over.

"We are trying to go almost exclusively food truck," Urban said. "So we first opened up registration specifically for food trucks. And then we opened up only a select number of tented spots, mainly for the vendors who've been doing Tastes for many years and don't have a food truck."

Live entertainment

Over 30 bands will play on two live music stages, featuring local favorites and high-energy tribute groups like Nite Wave ('80s), Outshined (Soundgarden), The Infinity Project (Journey), Poker Face (Lady Gaga) and many more, including ukulele ensemble Strum, School of Rock, and reggae/ska band Lion of Judah.

Of course, the big news is that perennial Friday-night closer the Beatniks are back after the Taste's misguided experiment with new music. Last year's music director is gone, and Urban wisely brought back acts that have always proved to be popular among Tastegoers.

"People want to dance to music they know," Urban said.

You can catch a few buskers playing in different areas of the festival as well.

21+ Garden

This has the two food trucks, in addition the beer and wine tents, and the 21 and up stage (Beatniks, etc.)

Other features: the popular cornhole tournament, giant beer pong, giant Connect-4, yoga, and radar fastpitch, not necessarily to partake in that order.

For the kids

This year, like last year, features a free Kids Zone all weekend. There are nine giant bouncy houses, face-painters and, of course, the popular giant slide.

King's High School students will be on hand for robotics demonstrations in the STEM tent.

The Jet City Roller Derby team, whose current venue is Seaview Gym at Edmonds Community College, will give roller derby demonstrations in the skate park.

Prizes

Attendees also have the chance to win some prizes. The first 20,000 adults through the gates will receive an event program with an entry form to win Alaska Airlines tickets.

And Doug's Lynnwood Mazda, Hyundai is sponsoring a "hand on the car" contest to win a prepaid lease on a new vehicle.

"Contestants will stand with their hand on the car and the last person standing wins," Urban said. "We will give them bathroom and water breaks, though," Urban said.

Commercial vendors

We can't forget the commercial vendors, as their application fees help pay for the Taste. And you might really need some bathroom remodeling.

But do we really need to walk past three bath-fitter booths? No, we don't.

"So what we did this year is we said there will be one per category and you're a sponsor vendor," Urban said. "They pay a higher fee, but they're guaranteed to be the only bath-fitter vendor. We don't want trade show feel, and having duplication and depreciation for the vendors doesn't do them good because then they're competing."

(Want to get a cellphone provider at the Taste? You'll have to go with T-Mobile.)

Giving back

Urban said the Taste usually is able to donate up to $24,000 to school and service groups who help staff the three-day event.

Groups benefiting this year's event are Edmonds Boys & Girls Club, Edmonds-Woodway High School, Meadowdale High School PRG (Parent Resource Group), Mountlake Terrace ASB, Lynnwood High School Girls Golf Team, Edmonds Kiwanis Club, Edmonds Lions Club, Shorewood/Shorecrest Girls Water Polo Team, and more.

This year, there's an increased emphasis on giving back to school-related groups in the Edmonds School District.

"With the funding shortfall, we definitely saw the potential need for additional fundraising," Urban said. "And believe me, like the Meadowdale PRG, they're like, 'Holy crap, yes, we don't want to do 10 bake sales to make this amount of money.' They're going to use the funds for after-school tutoring, which they lost funding for."

Said Chamber Membership Director Erica Sugg: "The messaging that we're really trying to push is that Taste is a fundraiser for this community. We're not the kind of event that pops up in a parking lot, takes a bunch of money, and moves on. It goes back into the community."

Urban said he hopes this year's changes will be welcomed.

"It's like the Taste Edmonds that you loved in the past," he said, "but it's even better than that."

Taste Edmonds

Where: Civic Park, 310 Sixth Ave. N, Edmonds

When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Aug. 16-18 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 12

Admission: $5 daily, free for those 12 and under. Entrance fee and beer/wine sales are cash only. Free admission into beer and wine garden (21 and up), as well as the children's area. Pets are not allowed.

Shuttle: Free from Edmonds-Woodway High School, 7600 212th St. SW, every 15 minutes.

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