Taste of Culver returns June 18 - will feature Caribbean theme

The Culver Chamber of Commerce's annual Taste of Culver festival will be back next month, and this time organizers plan to focus on the sun and fun aspect of the community and the event with a natural fit: a Caribbean theme.
This according to one of the main organizers, Patty Stallings, who shared details of this year's festival with members of Culver's Kiwanis Club last Thursday during the Club's regular meeting at the Culver Public Library.
Recalling the history of the festival, Stallings noted it was originally launched by the library itself a handful of years ago, after which the Chamber came in to take over the event.
"We felt (the festival) would Showcase our wonderful restaurants, bring people into the downtown are to shop and visit our museums, and be a feel good event highlighting our resort community during the summer months. It's not meant to be a fundraiser, but more as a positive community get-together."
The 2010 'Taste' was the Chamber's debut at the helm of the event, she said, and one immediate change was moving it from Main Street proper, around the corner to Jefferson Street between Ohio and Main Streets. This she said, avoided shutting down the block where several major businesses are located, utilized the "beautiful Heritage Park, which provides shade...and extends the 'Taste to the Farmers Market (at Jefferson and Ohio Streets) so they could reap some of the rewards."
Last year's 'Taste' arrived right on the heels of one of the worst wind storms in recent memory which, while it provided certain challenges to participating restaurants -- many of whom were without electricity to prepare food prior to the event -- may have helped drive traffic to the event, as many residents also weren't able to cook or eat at restaurants, while food was available at the festival.
Ten of Culver's renowned restaurants offered their fare last year to some 300 attendees, said Stallings (two were unable to participate due to the storm's effects). Those who participated adapted to the situation handily.
"I was amazed at how the restaurateurs brought big kettles and...burners because there was no electricity for them to cook at their places," she recalled. "They were very creative, and we had a real variety of all kinds of food."
A bluegrass band added to the atmosphere and the event provided funds to pay for the new canopy over the farmers market, added Stallings.
This year's Caribbean vibe will be created in part by steel drum player Kent Arnsbarger (www.kentarnsbarger.com) "and other surprises," she said.
The event will take place Saturday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Jefferson Street between Ohio and Main. Organizers expect 12 food booths this year.
Stallings noted the Chamber doesn't charge for each food booth, and restaurants may choose how much, if any, they would like to donate to the Chamber of their proceeds.
"A lot are extremely generous," she noted.
This year, any proceeds will go to promotional advertising of Culver and its offerings in state and area publications such as the Marshall County Visitors Bureau Guide.