Several new features will characterize the 10th annual Taste of Bexley, which will be 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 8 at the St. Charles Preparatory School Walter Student Commons, 2010 E. Broad St.

The Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce presents the event as a showcase for food vendors of all kinds in and nearby the community, said Elaine Phillips Pelz, the chamber's executive director.

"It is the chamber's signature event," she said. "It's a fundraiser for us -- we're a nonprofit and we don't get any funding form the city. We get to promote Bexley businesses and serve the community."

Twenty-nine businesses have signed up to participate in this year's event, which is a record number, Pelz said.

"What we want to do is ... have a good representation of Bexley of the community. There are familiar favorites that people expect every year, and there are some new businesses as well," she said.

"People are going to get their taste buds' worth. One of the things I like about it is people can compare. If people want ice cream, we've got Graeter's and Johnson's. If people want tea, we've got the Bexley Coffee Shop and Zen Cha. People can do side-by-side comparisons," she said.

One of the new vendors taking part this year is Harvest Pizza, which opened at 2376 E. Main St. at the end of June.

The restaurant plans to offer salads, Brussel sprouts and a selection of desserts during the event, said Laura Sloan, the restaurant's general manager.

The Taste offers an opportunity to meet potential new customers, she said.

"Being a new business, we really wanted to get a feel for the neighborhood and have some fun with Bexley," she said.

This year's judges include Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler, WOSU commentators Rich Terpak Sr. and Rich Terpak Jr. and Miriam Bowers-Abbott, food critic for 614 Magazine and Columbus Underground. The judges will award gold, silver and bronze recognition and select the best dessert. Visitors will choose the People's Choice award winner.

In honor of the event's 10th anniversary, the chamber will honor Bexley Pizza Plus restaurateur Brad Rocco, who founded the event.

"It's his brainchild and his sweat equity," Pelz said.

The event will include live entertainment by musician Dave Austin Sky and duo Allie and Laura Smith. There will also be a portable photo booth for participants of all ages.

The layout of St. Charles Commons enables Taste pf Bexley participants to get a clear view of all the festivities, Pelz said.

"People get to taste everything they want to taste," she said.

For tickets and more information about the Taste of Bexley, visit www.bexleyareachamber .org.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews