Taste of the San Luis Valley a success

SAN LUIS VALLEY—On Saturday, hundreds of people attended Monte Vista’s first annual Taste of the San Luis Valley, despite the hot weather and haze from the 416 and Spring Creek wildfires.

Six local restaurants and three breweries participated, serving up a variety of their most popular dishes and suds.  More than a dozen arts and crafts vendors were also on hand. 

Don Tomas Bakery brought burritos and pastries. The Mennonite ladies from Sunflour Bakery sold their famous glazed cinnamon buns. Quincy’s Steakhouse offered juicy prime rib samples. Mountain View Restaurant dished up its signature beef brisket, prime rib and enchiladas. And Chef Charles the “Barbeque Guy”served up fried catfish, beef brisket and turkey legs.

For dessert, Sylvia’s Ice Cream truck sold chocolate-dipped cheesecake, dipped ice cream and chocolate-covered bananas.

The Taste was the brainchild of Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce member Jerry Apker, who at one time had considered cancelling the event due to lack of interest from local restaurants. “Some people had previous commitments,” said Apker. “Some wanted to wait and see how the first year went. Others just weren’t interested.”

But things began to gear up after Mountain View Restaurant and Chef Charles signed on in May. Arts and crafts booths began to fill up and soon six restaurants were on board. Three of the four Valley breweries also committed: Square Peg Brewerks, San Luis Valley Brewing and Colorado Farm Brewery.

Word about the event spread quickly in local newspapers and social media— and interest grew.

Besides food and beer, the event highlighted a variety of arts and crafts such as handcrafted soaps, essential oils, one-of-a-kind wall hangings and wild game jerky and sausage. The Colorado National Guard had a military Humvees on display and a jousting pit for kids to romp around on and battle with each other. Indian Nickel, Mariachi San Luis and country singer Wes Richards entertained folks under the tent pavilion, and a Shamrock Foods representative conducted a cooking demonstration.

Monte Vista’s new drug-sniffing police dog Jake was even there, with his tail wagging and making sure everything ran smoothly.

The event, Apker said, went much better than we expected.  “Our ticket count isn’t in yet, but I’d say we had between 500-700 people throughout the day.”

Apker added that the event would not have been possible without the help of a small army of chamber members and other volunteers. 

Most vendors agreed that the event was a success. Quincy’s manager Austin McDonald said theysold out of their prime rib sliders (he made about 150). “At about 12:30 [p.m.] we had a line that snaked around, it was so busy.”By 2:45 p.m., Mountain View was packing up their food truck because they had also sold out of everything. Sylvia’s Ice Cream Treats was down to chocolate-covered bananas by about 5 p.m.

Luckily, Chef Charles still had enough food grilling to quell the hunger of late arrivals. And, of course, there was plenty of beer on tap.

Apker said he hopes the event’s success will inspire more participation from local restaurants next year. “There were only a handful of food vendors there yet so many people came, which shows this kind of event is something our community really wants.”

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