With about 20 local eateries offering samples, some might be tempted to give the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce's Taste of Grove City event a different name.

"There's so much good food to sample, it's easy to think of it as a 'feast' of Grove City," chamber executive director Shawn Conrad said.

Actually, the event is about more than local cuisine.

The 12th annual Taste of Grove City and Business Expo also will have 60 to 70 local businesses offering information about the goods and services they offer, said Marilyn Reiner, the chamber's events manager.

"The food helps bring in people so they can also learn about the businesses," she said.

The event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, at the South-Western Career Academy, 4750 Big Run South Road, Grove City.

"The Taste of Grove City is one of the chamber's premier and signature events," Conrad said.

"It's not just an event that's geared for our major companies in town," she said. "This is one that we make easy for our smaller businesses to participate in as well."

Visitors will have an opportunity to experience a one-night "pop-up mall" at the career academy, Conrad said.

Each of the participating restaurants will offer samples of dishes on their menus.

Guests will be able to vote for the best restaurant and best pizzeria -- and for best sweet treat, a new category, Reiner said.

"Some of our restaurants or bakeries will be offering samples of their desserts or sweets, so it makes sense to have that be a category all its own," she said.

At least 12 to 15 businesses will take part in a passport program, Conrad said.

Visitors may have "passport books" stamped at the participating businesses' booths and, after they are filled, enter them into drawings to receive $250 gift cards to local businesses and gift certificates to the best restaurant and pizzeria, she said.

Tickets cost $8 and are available at the door. The cost for seniors ages 65 and older, veterans and active service members is $5. Children under age 6 are admitted free.

A portion of the event's proceeds will be donated to the Grove City Food Pantry, Conrad said.

Between 500 and 700 people attend annually, she said.

Guests also can learn about the programs offered at the career academy, Conrad said.

"Each lab will have a table set up with more information about the program they offer and what their students are doing this year," she said.

The school's culinary-arts department will operate its Academy Grille restaurant during the expo, Conrad said.

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