The second Taste of Bexley event exceeded organizers expectations, according to co-chair and owner of Bexley Pizza Plus, Brad Rocco.

The second Taste of Bexley event exceeded organizers expectations, according to co-chair and owner of Bexley Pizza Plus, Brad Rocco.

The highlights of this year's event were new restaurants, the children's entertainment and the addition of musical entertainment.

"The entertainment for the kids was tremendous," Rocco said. "I think that was really popular. It was a really nice event."

This year opportunities for children including balloon crafts, a pumpkin craft, face painter, snow cones and popcorn. Rocco said the children's area was packed, even on a school night when parents are usually getting children ready for bed.

"You could tell that it was really good for families," Rocco said.

Tickets to this year's event were $20 presale and $25 the night of the event. Children ages 12 and under were admitted free.

"We are a family-oriented community," Rocco said. "We made children 12 and under free not to so kids could come in free but so parents would not have to get a babysitter. It is kind of a tough thing for someone who has a kid to find a sitter on a week night."

Attendance was up this year, although organizers haven't calculated the final numbers. Rocco speculates there were between 600 and 800 adults and a couple of hundred children. Last year 550 attended the inaugural event.

"We had a tremendous amount of pre-event sales," he said. "It was well over last year."

The event met fundraising goals too, Rocco said.

"Our goal was to beat last year and we did," he said. "I think that is really how we look at it, every year we want to make it a little bit better and make a little more (money)."

Sponsorships were up for this year's event which helped take some of the pressure off of ticket sales this year, Rocco said. Last year's event raised over $7,000.

Several restaurants won awards at the Taste of Bexley. Rocco said Old 40 Tavern, new to the event, won the "Golden Spoon" award for best food. The Top Steakhouse earned second place. Parkhurst Dining Service (Capital University's dining service) won best dessert and Blackcreek Bistro received honorable mention for dessert.

"It was at tie for best dessert," Rocco said.

Participating restaurants and food vendors are Aladdin's Eatery, Bexley Coffee Shop, Bexley Natural Market, Bexley Pizza Plus, Black Creek Bistro, Block's Bagels, Caryn's Cuisine, Catering by Scott, Cherbourg Bakery, G. Michael's Bistro, Giant Eagle, Graeter's, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, Johnson's Real Ice Cream, Katz-inger's, Old 40 Tavern, Old Bag of Nails, Panera Bread, Parkhurst Dining Service, Pita House, Rubino's Pizza, Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, Starbucks, White Castle and Wing's Restaurant.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com