Taste of Osceola invites all to sample bites of surrounding area

EVART — Food is simply one of those things that can bring people together, a fact that was more than apparent as hundreds of hungry community members from in and around Osceola County gathered for the third annual Taste of Osceola.

Savory offerings, brewed beverages and tasty treats were featured at the event, which took place in the community building at the Osceola County 4H FFA Fairgrounds on Monday. Eleven vendors located in or who serve Osceola County dished out bite-sized samples of their best and popular menu items. The event is sponsored by the Osceola Leadership Summit.

Frontline Specialists President and CEO Al Weinberg, who facilitates the summit, was pleased with the outcome of attendees and the number of vendors showcasing their different talents and specialties.

"I think there is a good variety of food," he said. "I'm confident there are people here sampling and enjoying food that they've never had before. It seems like people keep coming through the door."

The event not only attracted businesses which have attended in the past, but new vendors sought to take part. The Kettunen Center, located outside of Tustin, was one of four new companies to be part of the fun, with staff serving chicken salad sliders and glazed apple cake.

"We saw this an an opportunity to be part of a community event and we want to be better community partners," said Chris Gentry, director of the Kettunen Center. "I think sometimes our local folks forget we're here because we're somewhat hidden, but we're trying to make sure people know we're still here."

Attendees and Evart resident Dawn Kruithoff sat down to eat with her daughter, Katie Bishop, and two sons at the event. It was their first time attending and all were happy with the food selections on their plates.

"The Thai peanut stir fry from All American Cafe was phenomenal," Bishop said. "I didn't know they even served this."

Kruithoff agreed, adding she learned of a few new businesses while walking around to the vendor tables.

"I'm a business owner and I just felt it was important to come out and support this event," she said. "It's always nice to be aware of new business and what they offer."

In addition to the mouth-watering food options, 70 percent of the event’s proceeds will be donated to the Osceola County Commission on Aging for its Meals on Wheels program. The other 30 percent will be placed into a scholarship fund for those interested in participating in the OLS.

The Taste of Osceola event helps build the county and break down the walls between the communities within it, Weinberg added. He said he's proud the event has grown throughout the years.

"Each year it gains more and more momentum," Weinberg said. "If you've come before, you're not going to miss it the next year."