Taste of Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG – Bright sunshine and warm weather greeted thousands of guests who came to Market Street in downtown Parkersburg on Saturday for the annual Taste of Parkersburg.

The event, now in its ninth year, featured a variety of food and beverages provided by local and regional businesses for sampling during the evening at the Blennerhassett Hotel and Bicentennial Plaza. A wine dinner and after-party were held Friday at the Blennerhassett.

Carrie Nesselrode, executive director of Downtown PKB, which has taken over organizing the Taste, said about 1,600 tickets for the event were pre-ordered, and officials hoped to double that number at the gate.

“The weather is perfect, and we’ve had a lot of great response,” she said Saturday afternoon. “We look at this as the kickoff to our summer.”

This year officials made a special effort to recruit volunteers, and Nesselrode said about 100 volunteers were working Saturday’s event.

“We’re so grateful for our volunteers,” she said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

Nesselrode said this year’s event featured more than 120 varieties of wine and 50 varieties of food from local restaurants.

Sisters Angela Landers and Christy Knopp graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1987, but now live in Atlanta, Ga., and Cincinnati, Ohio, respectively. While visiting local family this week, both decided they would check out the Taste of Parkersburg.

“I’d never been to this festival and it seemed like a fun thing to do,” Landers said. “I love it. It’s perfect.”

Landers said the area has needed an event like Taste for years, and she was excited to see it being held downtown and doing so well.

“Parkersburg has such a small, hometown flavor. You really need a way to bring people back,” she said.

“I have a bunch of friends on Facebook who said they’d be here tonight,” Knopp said. “It’s nice to be able to get everyone together like this.”

For some, the real draw of the Taste of Parkersburg is a taste of something new. Michael Nyquist said he is originally from Minnesota and has lived in different towns and states, most recently in Ripley. His interest in microbrews was the reason for visiting the event with Parkersburg resident Jennifer Sutton, he said.

“I like to taste what everyone else has, maybe get some ideas,” Nyquist said. “I like to see if they are doing anything interesting, and that’s what I’m interested in, something that’s not the normal, mainstream beers.”

Sutton said she had attended the Taste a few years back, but figured with Nyquist being new to the area, it was a good time to come back.

“I thought this was a good way for him to get to see a lot of the vendors that are in this area,” all at the same time, she said.