Annual Taste of Osceola draws crowd to help COA's senior meals program

EVART – With every palate pleasing bite they took Tuesday night, area residents were able to help support the county's senior meals program.

There was a little bit of everything – from pizza and soup to sweets and wine – for residents to taste test samples during Tuesday's sixth annual Taste of Osceola. The annual event, presented by the Osceola Leadership Summit, raises funds and awareness for the Osceola County Commission on Aging's Senior Meals Program by showcasing samples from area restaurants and eateries.

COA Director Scott Schryer said the event is one of the bigger fundraisers during the year benefiting the senior meals program.

“It's a great event, as the Leadership Summit donates funds,” he said Tuesday night. “Last year, we received a little more than $2,500. That's huge for us. With those funds, we were able to provide raw meals to seniors for two weeks.”

Schryer said in 2016, the weather played a factor in a lower number of attendees than in previous years. However, Tuesday's nice weather had the COA director feeling good about a larger turnout.

“The word has really spread about it,” he said. “It starts getting close to spring and people start asking about the Taste of Osceola and when it is.”

As he looked over the filled chairs and long lines at vendors' booths, Al Weinberg, facilitator for the Leadership Summit, said he was super pleased with the turnout.

“We have 12 vendors here this year; some new ones and some old ones,” he said. “I see a lot of new faces and everyone is enjoying themselves.”

Weinberg said each year everyone comes with higher expectations for what vendors will be at the event  and what they will showcase to taste.

“You hear a lot of people telling others to try this or to try that,” he said.

At the end of the day, Weinberg said, the event raises money for the senior meals program.

“What better way to show your support with so many restaurants and eateries and even wineries all in one location to bring everyone together for something important,” he said.

Residents throughout the county attended, including Jody Hardy, of Reed City, and her family.

“I was part of the Leadership Summit and came out to support them,” she said, before her children finished their plates of samples and looked to get some ice cream from the Dairy Station, of Tustin.

As she carefully put some icing on cinnamon rolls, Angie Moore, of the The Gathering Place Restaurant and Gifts, said it was a lot of fun to be at the Taste of Osceola.

“We came last year,” she said. “It was our first year and (Weinberg) invited us.

“It gives us an opportunity to give people a sample of what we do and it's a lot of fun.”