Food festivals in Silver Spring, Wheaton set for May 15
Communities to play host to simultaneous events
Prepare your palates: A new East County food tasting festival and a veteran one will take place on the same day this year.
Silver Spring and Wheaton are offering a sample of their culturally diverse eating scenes May 15. Taste of Wheaton, which is in its 16th year, and Taste the World in Fenton Village, which is in its first, will highlight local restaurants in their respective areas. Both aim to advocate for local businesses and draw people to their communities for the day and the future.
Organizers for both events said the coinciding date was an accident and they hope to feed off of each other rather than compete.
"I think it's not a competitive thing," said Sidney Cooper, marketing and events manager for The Taste of Wheaton. "We obviously want to support each other. It's unfortunate it did coincide on the same date. The hope is that people will attend both."
"I'm not looking at it as a negative," said Jessica Fusillo, chair of the Commercial Economic Development Committee for the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board. "We have a twofer here. I think it is very exciting."
Taste the World kicks off the first of what organizers said they hope will be an annual event. The festival will have a starting point in the parking lot by Highland Origin Coffee on Fenton Street. Participants can pick up a passport flier that lists the 21 participating restaurants in Fenton Street Village. The passport maps out the restaurants that are involved, and people can go to them for $5 tastings. If attendees get their passport stamped from at least three restaurants, they can turn it in at the base area to be entered in a raffle.
Restaurants such as Addis Ababa Restaurant, Fenton Cafe, Pacci's Pizzeria and Jackie's are featured in Taste the World. The festival has been in the works for several years the brain child of the Commercial Economic Development Committee of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board, Fusillo said.
"We are getting everyone more aware of what Silver Spring has to offer, especially Fenton Village," Fusillo said.
The committee's goal is to draw people from Downtown Silver Spring on Ellsworth Drive to Fenton Street, which sees less foot traffic but has a wide ranging assortment of restaurants, from Ethiopian to contemporary American fare.
"Its very diverse," Fusillo said. "You have everything from African to Indian. You have different cultures on every block."
The festival is unique in that it was organized by an advisory board committee. Committees usually do not organize events, Fusillo said.
As the advisory board in Silver Spring attempts to revitalize the less-crowded Fenton Village area, the food festival veterans in Wheaton are seeking to add even more to the long-running Taste of Wheaton event.
The Taste of Wheaton has become a destination every year for people in the Washington, D.C., metro region. Cooper said the festival sees about 10,000 to 15,000 customers every year who are seeking to sample fare from Wheaton, which is known for its diverse eating scene.
The festival adds something new every year, Cooper said. This year along with the more than 20 restaurants participating there will be karaoke and a dance floor set up for performances from salsa and urban dance groups.
The Taste of Wheaton is set up differently from the Taste the World. The festival is staged in the Wheaton Triangle between Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive, with each restaurant offering samplings in booths. Samples cost between $1 and $5. There also will be entertainment, such as puppet shows, art displays, kid music, face painting and caricature drawing.
-The Taste of Wheaton will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 15 in the Wheaton Triangle at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive. Tastings range from $1 to $5.
-Taste the World in Fenton Village will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. May 15. Pick up your passport at the parking lot on Fenton Street between Silver Spring Avenue and Thayer Avenue. Participating restaurants are within blocks of the starting point. Tastings cost $5 each.