When attendees enter the 11th annual Taste of Bexley, they'll encounter a tropical decor in the St. Charles Preparatory School's Walter Commons, 2010 E. Broad St.

The event, presented by the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce, will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 14.

Organizers chose the tropical theme to add a dash of spice to the event showcasing food vendors throughout central Ohio, said Elaine Phillips Pelz, the chamber's executive director.

"It's just to add more fun to the event," she said. "We are encouraging people to wear their Hawaiian shirts or whatever tropical clothes they may have."

Typically no specific attire has been requested.

Food vendors will offer everything from entrees to desserts, Pelz said. There will be a "Suds Shack" with three varieties of beer from Seventh Son Brewing on tap and wine from Giant Eagle Market District Express.

"We're going to have 32 vendors, which is the most we've ever had," Pelz said. "There's more variety, more choices."

Laura Sloan, general manager of Harvest Pizza, 2376 E. Main St., said the restaurant plans to offer meatballs and polenta, pimento cheese, Brussel sprouts, salads and desserts.

The Taste of Bexley offers an opportunity to not only familiarize customers with menu items other than the restaurant's signature pizzasbut also to give back to the community, she said.

"I feel like we are very involved in the Bexley community," she said. "Bexley does a great job of supporting us and showing up and keeping us busy. It's a way of saying 'thank you' and interacting with customers in a different setting."

David Tetzloff, head chef at G. Michael's Bistro & Bar, 595 S. Third St., said the restaurant plans to offer braised lamb shoulder.

Tetzloff said he and his business partner, Jeff Benson, have participated in the Taste of Bexley since the event's inception.

"We get to see our friends and neighbors," Tetzloff said. "It's a fun event."

Live entertainment will include music from Bexley Public Library director Ben Heckman, who will perform with his band, Dr. Lava and the Freaky Tiki Vintage Vault.

The event will also include a tropical photo station and free chair massages.

Participating restaurants will have the chance to win a golden spoon, silver spoon or bronze spoon award, as well as an award for best dessert. Attendees can vote for the People's Choice restaurant.

A panel of local "foodies" will serve as judges, including Bexley's Mayor Ben Kessler, Bexley Minority Parent Alliance president Brian Drewry and radio personality Rich Terapak Jr.

A new feature this year is a raffle in which attendees can buy $1 tickets for a chance to win a visit from the Johnson's Real Ice Cream cart at a private event.

Advance tickets are $30 and can be purchased through the chamber's website, bexleyareachamber.org. Tickets are also available at Bexley Pizza Plus, Bexley Natural Market, the Drexel Theatre and the chamber's office, 544 S. Drexel Ave. Tickets are $35 at the door.

For more information call 614-236-4500 or email info@bexleyareachamber.org.

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