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Taste of Porter County encompasses more than dining choices

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Community News, Dining & Entertainment, Featured

Published on August 21, 2012 with No Comments

Encompasses more than local dining choices, arts and crafts offered

One of the best ways to celebrate area eateries while enjoying a final family summer outing just as schools get back on schedule is the annual Taste of Porter County.  The food festival and arts and crafts show will be staged at the Porter County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, 215 E. Division Road, Valparaiso, on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25 and 26.

According to event promoter Joe Duron, “The whole purpose of the event is to be family-friendly and affordable.”

Admission is $5 per vehicle. And, yes, in theory, if a busload came along they’d all get in for the $5 price. Duron finds such a thought right in line with his views of the whole Taste.

“We try to have fun,” Duron said. “I’d actually love it if a busload came in. That’s the idea of ‘affordable’.”
It’s the fourth year for the Taste.  There are more than 100 food options, with prices from $1.50 to $4 per sampling. It is not limited to Porter County vendors, either. Just as visitors come from all over, so do the crafters and the food preparers.

“It just keeps getting bigger every year,” Duron said. “We have more capacity for more visitors as we grow. We like to say ‘Porter County and beyond.’

“When getting this off the ground, the whole idea was to tell everyone it is in Porter County, but it is open to everyone.  Like the Taste of Crown Point changed its name to Taste of the Region.”

Local entrepreneur Mario Alvarez started the Taste. For 21 years, he was the impetus behind the Chevy and Corvette Show which had its 27th run earlier this month. This year, he handed the Taste to Duron.

Duron runs his own website and graphics design company. “For about two months, I actually do just the Taste of Porter County,” he laughed. He got into the business when a friend from childhood welcomed him in.

“So that’s my real job,” he said. He said the Taste planning starts early, because “you still have to get vendors, entertainers, sponsors, and so on. In fact, in July, we started on the planning for the 2013 show.

“The car show has certainly helped to grow the event, and there is no limiting factor. We have the whole fairgrounds if we need it,” Duron said.  And that’s the 10-year plan.

He said the wine-tasting on both days is another growing event, featuring the oldest family-owned winery in Indiana.

Duron made a shout out to Purdue North-Central where, he jokingly said, he is a “20-year-senior” with real plans to finish a degree in accountancy. “I will just keep moving, but the Taste is doing something I love,” Duron said.

Saturday, Aug. 25 schedule:

11 a.m. gates open; 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. musical performance by Mo ‘Beat Blues Entertainment; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ace Magic performs up-close magic; 2 to 4 p.m. DJ Tunez; 3 to 10 p.m. beer garden w/ cocktails, wine tasting by Easley Winery; 5 to 8 p.m. featured band, the Difference; 8:30 to 10 p.m. live performance by 2006 Grammy contender Keenan Baxter; 10 p.m. gates close.

Sunday Aug. 26 schedule:

11 a.m. gates open; 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. musical performance by Mo ‘Beat Blues Entertainment; 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. judged car, truck, bike show; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ace Magic performs up-close magic; 1:15 to 2:10 p.m. Zumba with EstudioZ Fitness; 2 p.m. awards presented for judged car, truck, bike show; 4 to 8 p.m. free outdoor concert by Nawty; 12 to 6 p.m. beer garden w/ cocktails, wine tasting by Easley Winery; 4:30 p.m. restaurant awards presented; 8 p.m. gates close.

There is also a KidZone both days and a “Race to the Taste” held Saturday morning.

There is no admission charged to enter the cruise, which will present more than 60 awards.  The philosophy of the show sponsors is that economic times are tough and you’ve put countless time and money you into your show car, so why would you pay to enter into a show? However, if anyone intends to present a for-sale vehicle or motorcycle, there is a $15 fee.

Registration for the awards competition runs until 12:30 p.m. judging on Sunday. Additional honorary student trophies will be presented in all classes. To qualify, the participating student must drive the car in and register in the proper class. There is even an In-Progress Class for those restorations under way but not yet finished.

Classification breakdowns and (awards) for each: Pre-1930s (2); 1930s (2); 1940s (2); 1950s (3); 1960s (4); 1970s (3); 1980s (3); 1990s (3); 2000s – Present (5); Truck (4); Import (4); Exotic (2); Rat Rod (2); In-Progress (4); Best of Show (1)

Motorcycles: Sport (3); Hog (3); Custom (3); Best of Show (1)

Honorary Student Trophies: High School (4); College (Under Age 25) (4)

Honorary Gray beard Award (2)

For more information, call the events hotline at 219-916-8003 or visit www.tasteofportercounty.com. Duron’s website is duronmedia.com.

Don Quijote’s restaurant adds local flavor to the annual Taste of Porter County.

The car and motorcycle drive-in and competition is always a big part of the annual Taste of Porter County.

There is also a KidZone both days.

A “Race to the Taste” will be held Saturday, August 25. Registration from 7 – 7:30 a.m. Race begins at 8:00 a.m.

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About Mike Siroky

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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