Walking shoes and an empty belly are recommended for the annual Taste of the Towns.
Hosted by the Douglas County Historical Society, the event will take place from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday. at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center.
Tasting booths from restaurants and merchants will be set up in the museum parking lot and throughout downtown Gardnerville at participating eateries. Live music by All Hat No Cattle.
This year’s line-up includes: Abby Jo’s Café Girasole, Battle Born Wine, Chocolate Shoppe, GadZooks, Genoa Station Bar & Grille, The Grill Next Door, J. R. Watkins, I.S.R. Spice and Extracts, JT Basque Bar & Dining Room, Killer Salsa, Market Café located at the Historian Inn, Nevada Margarita Man, Overland Hotel and Basque Restaurant, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Pizza Barn, Port of Subs, Quail Cottage Antiques, Sierra Gourmet Grill & Wine Bar and Tahoe Ridge Winery & Bistro.
Grace Bower is the brains behind the operation, and has shouldered the event from the beginning—about 10-12 years ago.
“I came up with the idea from Carson’s The Taste of Downtown Event,” Bower said.
Over the years, Bower has served the historical society as president for eight years, and s currently the head of the fundraising committee.
“I personally go into every restaurant and business, and ask them if they want to participate,” the volunteer said.
“If the business is outside of the walking area, they set up a booth in the parking lot,” which is the area Bower supervises as she does her tickets sales. “I have to sell the tickets and make sure everything is going well.”
Because of that, Bower has never actually gotten to participate in the walk.
“I think the atmosphere in the parking lot is really fun, but I’ve heard the walk is great as well.”
According to Bower, the parking lot is her favorite part.
“I figured this event would help everyone get to know each other and the businesses that are around.”
For example, there is a business titled The Chocolate Shoppe behind Raley’s that is out of sight. They will also be participating in The Taste of the Towns.
“Some of these restaurants have been with us since the beginning, like Papa Murphy’s,” she recalled. “She was ready to close, but business picked up after she participated in this event.”
Often, new businesses will participate as well.
“The Grill Next Door won best taste last year,” Bower said.
However, some businesses choose not to come back.
“I understand why some restaurants choose not to participate, they want to stay open or they don’t have the man power. But our hope is that this event will help their business,” she explained.
Some new businesses that are participating this year are the Genoa Station Grill, Sierra Gourmet and Pizza Barn will hopefully be bringing a food truck.
“Though they (the customers) don’t always have time to buy things, while they’re doing the walk, they remember. And they always come back.”
Bower stated that no restaurant or business is ever turned away.
“I can always make space,” she emphasized. “We can make space in the parking lot for a booth.”
They sell about 150-175 tickets each year, but she cannot attest for this year.
The event is always held on the first weekend of August, during Hot August Nights, but Bower doesn’t believe they conflict too much.
Participants vote for their favorite business and restaurant.
Tickets are on sale at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center for $25, or $20 for historical society members.
For more information, call 782-2555.