Charlene Ellis came all the way from Thousand Oaks, Calif., for Carson City's Taste of Downtown on Saturday. Well, almost.
"I'm staying up at Lake Tahoe on vacation and I found out about this and decided to come," she said between bites of shrimp salad.
"I'm glad I did. This is a great set up. I'll come back next year."
The 11th-annual event is the major fund-raiser for Advocates to End Domestic Violence. Twenty-six restaurants participated this year, competing for titles like best taste, best atmosphere and best overall. The event spanned 15 blocks, with the bass from eight bands resonating throughout the city.
Ellis liked Daddy Dicks' spicy Jambalaya and the barbecue from Howlin' Good.
"It's just good barbecue," she said with a smile.
All 1,500 tickets for the event sold out before it started, leaving many without the coveted wrist bands.
"It feels great (to have sold all the tickets) but it's kind of a bummer to have to tell people we're sold out," said Jackie Rhea, shelter manager for the advocates. By 6:45 p.m. more than 100 people had stopped by her information booth on the Legislative lawn looking for tickets.
Bill and Lori Myer were two of them. They were a little disappointed, but not too bad.
"There's still music and stuff," he said.
"Yeah, and there's some vendors selling drinks," she added.
Participating restaurants get 50 cents per taste, Rhea said. Some businesses, like Mom and Pop's Diner on the corner of 3rd and Carson streets, don't accept the money.
"He has never accepted it," Rhea said. "He gets the check and he just gives it right back."
She was referring to co-owner Doug Cramer.
"It's called charity," he explained later. "You give, you receive. You don't give, you don't get."
He was giving out his fish tacos and chicken enchiladas. They're new on the menu, currently featured as lunch specials on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. And they're good.
"Best we've had so far - absolutely," said Wayne Esposito of Dayton.
The crowd was well-behaved Saturday - at least early on.
"No problems so far," said Carson City Sheriff's Search and Rescue member Jim Sadilek. "We'll see what happens as the night goes on and the collective blood-alcohol level goes up."
Deputies patrolled streets - several of which were closed to traffic - on horseback. Members of VIPS, Volunteers In Police Service, helped control traffic and protect walkers crossing the highway.
All proceeds from Taste of Downtown benefit the advocates' 52-bed emergency shelter.
"Being a shelter manager I've seen a lot of shelters and we have a nice one," said Rhea. "Our director's goal is to make sure they feel comfortable there."
Although the total amount raised will not be tallied for several days, the event has raised almost $30,000 in years past.
Contact Karl Horeis at email@example.com or 881-1219.