The Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce's 21st annual Taste of UA will return to Northam Park Thursday, Aug. 7.
Heavy rain virtually washed out last year's local food and business showcase, but chamber officials said it only temporarily dampened their spirits.
To make up for what was set up to be the Taste of UA's 20th anniversary celebration in 2013, chamber President Becky Hajost said she wanted to send a heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers and guests who slogged through the park by providing a bigger and better event this year.
Not only will the event, which will start at 3:30 p.m., feature 30 food vendors and an expanded beer garden open until 10 p.m., but there will be an Aug. 6 prelude to the Taste.
The chamber will host its first "Music Under the Stars," sponsored by PNC Bank, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 6 at Northam Park.
That event will feature wine, food from chamber member groceries and a performance by Upper Arlington High School orchestra students directed by Ed Zunic.
"This is an exciting opportunity for the first annual chance to sit in Northam Park and enjoy music and beverage and food," Hajost said. "The students will be playing about 30 minutes, and Ed will talk about some of the highlights of their recent trip to Beijing."
Admission to Music Under the Stars is $25 per person, $40 per couple or $200 for a table of 10. Tickets will not be available at the door.
For information or reservations, visit uachamber.org or call 614-481-5710.
Five percent of the event proceeds will be donated to the UA High School Orchestra Band, and the balance will go to the chamber to provide events such as the annual Community Celebration and Business Showcase and the Taste of UA.
Admission to the Taste is free. Visitors can choose from about 30 different food vendors and learn about nearly 70 other businesses that will have booths.
This year will mark the sixth year Charlie Groezinger will be chairman of the Taste, and it's Hajost's seventh year as chamber president.
"It truly is a community event," Hajost said. "It's the culture of our community coming together with our businesses.
"It's a time to shine."
In keeping with tradition, the Taste this year will feature the Buckeye Mobil Tour, amusement rides, a NASCAR race simulator and a beer garden operated by employees of the Daily Growler's Upper Arlington store that will feature craft beers, wine and root beer.
Additionally, blues-rock band Mr. Lucky and The Temple Monkey, which performs classic rock, blues and rhythm & blues, will perform.
Of course, food will be the focal point, with prizes awarded in appetizer, entree and dessert categories.
Those awards will be determined by a celebrity panel of judges that will include Mike Davis and Karina Nova of WBNS-10TV, Upper Arlington Police Chief Brian Quinn, chamber board officers Janet Boissy and Peter Hahn, The Arlington Bank President Thomas C. Westfall and Sunny 95 Morning Show host Dino Tripodis.
Additionally, one "citizen judge" will be selected in an Aug. 1 drawing. To enter, contact the chamber at 614-481-5710 or send an email to Teresa@uachamber.org.
"We'll have approximately 30 food vendors and we have some booths doing massage, some doing face painting," Hajost said. "We'll have everything from professional services to banking, you name it.
"We've almost doubled the size of our beer garden, and a special thanks goes to Yard Solutions. Our event looks so top-notch and professional because of Yard Solutions' attention to detail. We're trying to do a little extra this year."