Organizers are putting the final touches on plans for one of the city's largest summer bashes, the Taste of UA.

Organizers are putting the final touches on plans for one of the city's largest summer bashes, the Taste of UA.

"Things are going fantastically, we are ahead of schedule on everything right now, and people are starting to get very excited," said Becky Hajost, president of the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce.

In its 18th year, the Taste of UA will include vendors from more than 30 local restaurants and more than 100 local businesses, sprawled across Northam Park, Hajost said.

"This started out as a very small event to promote local business to the residents, and it ended up turning into a wonderful community event," she said. "What a lot of people don't realize is just how large it's grown to be. It really takes up quite a large footprint."

This year's Taste of UA will include live music from rocker Willie Phoenix as well as Avalon Nine, along with the hundreds of vendors and amusement rides. Hajost said that new to the event this year will be Ohio State University's Buckeye Mobile Tour, which includes interactive games and inflatable play areas for kids. Brutus the Buckeye and the OSU cheerleaders will also come along to meet and greet the crowd, Hajost said.

The Taste of UA also features a Bier Garten, where patrons can sample a few adult beverages from specialty craft brewers such as Magic Hat. Those attending the festival will also have a chance to vote in the local food contest, Hajost said.

"This year, we have so many restaurants participating that they can either submit an appetizer, entre or dessert," she said. "We have a panel of seven judges, and the restaurants with the best choice will win either first, second or third place, along with a people's choice award."

Hajost said the chamber is also in need of volunteers to help out with this year's festivities. Adults and children are needed to work in scheduled shifts between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. throughout the festival.

"This is a great opportunity for students to earn their public service hours, and all volunteers receive a free Taste of UA T-shirt," Hajost said. "There are a variety of ways to help out, and it should be a lot of fun for volunteers."

Youth volunteers will be working with adult supervision, and will be expected to help set up and tear down tables and booths, pick up trash and greet patrons. Anyone interested in volunteering for the event should contact the chamber at 614-481-5710.

The 18th annual Taste of UA celebration takes place from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11. The event, which is expected to draw nearly 12,000 visitors, is free and open to the public. More information on the Taste of UA can be found online at www.uachamber.org.