Taste of Parkersburg draws crowd

PARKERSBURG – The Taste of Parkersburg experienced some unwanted raindrops but mostly held out for vendors to pour wine and beer for thousands of guests in the Bicentennial Plaza and Blennerhassett Hotel parking lot on Saturday night.

Held in previous years during late September, the timing wasn’t all that had changed for the event during its move to the first weekend in June as organizers also set up a reserved seating section for guests to be sure they’d have somewhere to relax and enjoy the food and beverages provided.

Cecil Childress, general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel and one of the event organizers, said having Downtown PKB affiliated with the event this year helped out tremendously. The group did not exist when the event took place last fall, he said.

“Having Downtown PKB is different for us,” he said. “We have the greatest group of volunteers.”

Childress said the set-up and people knowing their job during the event has become more efficient over the years. This year’s event had more advance ticket sales for the new spring date compared to last fall, something he found surprising. About 800 people bought presale tickets this year, he said.

“The reserve seating makes it a little easier for people,” Childress added. “People can be assured they can come in and get a seat.”

Among the guests at Saturday night’s Taste, Parkersburg residents Michael and Gina Chesire said they moved back to the area after having lived in Columbus for several years. After living in Parkersburg for three years they decided to see what all of the fuss was with the Taste, which they had heard about from friends.

“We thought it would be a good way to try different restaurants,” Gina Chesire said.

The pair said they had sampled some wine and were working up a strategy to get the best out of their new experience as the evening progressed.

David and Debbie Caplinger, of Vienna, said they had been to the event with friends at least three times. The couple said it is a great way to get their large group of friends together for an outing.

“We always have a good time,” David Caplinger said.

The couple said they come for the food and enjoyment. The pair wasted no time sampling food, Debbie Caplinger added.

“We’ve already started eating,” she said.

Sam and Melinda Johnson said they volunteer each year because it is a great way for them to give back to the community. They said they enjoy being part of the event and were pouring wine for a vendor who couldn’t make it Saturday night.

The most important thing is listening to the crowd of wine and food lovers and tending to what the community is looking for, Childress said.

“We want to do what the people who come to this event want,” he said.