Fairgoers will sample filet and frankfurters, mujadara and macaroons, pizza and pork belly, crab cakes and cookie bars.
For both simple and sophisticated palates, great tastes await this Friday, July 18, at A Taste of Worthington, the annual food festival presented by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.
The community event, in its 23rd year, will be from 5:30 to 10 p.m. in the parking area of OfficeScape Corporate Center, 350 W. Wilson Bridge Road.
Last year's event attracted a record crowd of 5,000. Admission to the event, which includes family entertainment and food, is $2 per person; children under age 6 are admitted free.
More than 50 appetizers, entrees and desserts, ranging from gourmet specialties to picnic fare, will be served by 24 area food vendors who compete for the public's "ballots"in the friendly People's Choice competition.
Food prices range from $1 to $7 per dish, so guests may sample and compare numerous dishes. Soft drinks, bottled water, draft beer, sangria and several types of wine also will be sold.
Presenting sponsors are Bello Giardino, Shawan-Marquis Agency and WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone.
Participating food vendors include Aladdin's Eatery, Bob Evans Restaurants & Catering, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cameron's American Bistro, Columbus Fish Market, Dairy Queen, Friendship Village of Columbus, Graeter's, Greek Express and Acropolis, Holiday Inn Columbus/Worthington, J. Gilbert's Wood-Fired Steaks and Seafood, J. Liu Restaurant & Bar, Jet's Pizza, JT's Pizza, La Chatelaine, Mojo Tago, Pies & Pints, Raising Cane's, Rivage Atlantique, Skyline Chili, Trillium Place, Weiland's, Willow Brook Christian Home and Wurst und Bier.
"Tamarind, sriracha, coco-nut, key lime, piquant sauces ... the flavors that food vendors are featuring this year really are a sensory sampling, so the smells emanating from West Wilson Bridge Road next Friday will be very tempting," chamber president Kathryn Paugh said.
Paugh said the creativity among food offerings has increased each year and that each food vendor uses the opportunity to showcase signature foods in a different way.
Visitors will make their way through the menu geographically, alphabetically, by food style or trend, or by loyalty to a favorite local restaurant.
If trendy tastes appeal, one might want to try the trio of deconstructed kabobs from Weiland's, including smoked pork belly and potato pancake with charred pineapple salsa, or Holiday Inn's sriracha chicken bites with sweet chili, or perhaps the tamarind barbecued ribs with coconut key lime corn, introducing the work of the new chef at Willow Brook, a repeat People's Choice winner.
Several past award winners are sticking with their tried-and-true signature dishes, Paugh said.
"Many of our event guests, with ballots in hand, head straight from the gate to J. Gilbert's for filet, to Rivage for lobster rolls and shrimp jambalaya, to J. Liu for lettuce wraps or to Graeter's or DQ for their favorite ice cream treats," she said. "Worthington's businesses have done a great job of building brand loyalty."
Worthington's growing popularity as a pizza haven is represented at the event, as well.
"You'll have the chance to compare JT's chicken, bacon, ranch or pepperoni, Jet's deep-dish and Pies & Pints' gorgonzola or pepperoni all in one sitting," Paugh said.
Sponsor booths also will reflect growing creativity, she said.
Bello Giardino will beautify the event area with trees, plants and landscape fencing.
The LaBuda Real Estate Team and Columbus First Bank will invite guests to their sponsor booth to be sketched by a caricature artist. PNC Bank will provide an ATM for guests' convenience.
Luebbe Hearing Services will use the event to introduce its Dinner Bell Award, inviting residents to nominate local restaurants whose dining establishments will be scrutinized by "undercover" judges and rewarded for providing welcoming dining environments for people who have hearing impairments.
Two other sponsors will use their booths to promote their favorite nonprofit organizations. At Worthington Jewelers' table, guests will find Healthy Worthington Resource Center & Food Pantry; at Dr. Lordo's sponsor table, they'll learn about Leadership Worthington.
Family fun also is on the menu. Several styles of live music will be performed by the Tommy Wade Orchestra, Worthington Music and Rendition. The Columbus Crew will offer a family activity area, and Young Professionals of Worthington will conduct corn-hole competitions for children and adults. The kids' corner includes an inflatable playhouse from Let's Bounce and an activity area supervised by Goddard School.
The event, for which ThisWeek Community News is a sponsor, will be held rain or shine. For more information about A Taste of Worthington, call 614-888-3040 or visit the calendar of events on the chamber's website: worthingtonchamber.org.