Group: Food festival a no-go

GREENFIELD — Taste of Hancock County, a community event that’s drawn thousands of residents and visitors to downtown Greenfield, will not return this summer, organizers recently announced.

Despite enthusiasm for the late-summer event from community members, the festival fell short of organizers’ expectations last year, said representatives from the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Families United for Support and Encouragement, or FUSE, co-sponsors of the event.

The annual event, which had been conducted since 2012, took place on the courthouse plaza and adjoining streets and featured food samples from dozens of local restaurants and performances from area bands.

But disappointing ticket sales combined with a tedious, time-consuming process of organizing the event made it unsustainable, said Amy Borgmann, director of development FUSE, a local nonprofit that provides resources to families raising children with special needs.

Last summer, the event drew about 1,000 attendees — a respectable figure, Borgmann said, but only half the number that were estimated to have attended in 2014.

Organizers said they were hoping to draw nearly 3,000 to last year’s event, Borgmann added.

Retta Livengood, president of the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce, said while there was clearly interest in the event from community members, the response wasn’t significant enough to justify the amount of work it took to organize.

“The people speak volumes with their participation and support — or lack thereof,” Livengood said.

In all, last summer’s festival took nearly 11 months to plan, requiring organizers to reach out to dozens of restaurants and arrange rentals for tents, seating and restrooms, Borgmann said.

It also became a challenge to find vendors who were willing to part with the amount of employees it took to run a booth at the Saturday-night event, a traditionally busy time for most restaurants, Livengood said.

The event raised about $10,000 last year, which was split between FUSE and the Chamber. Considering the amount of time and effort employees from both organizations had to commit to the event, that figure was a disappointment, both organizers said.

“I sincerely appreciate everyone’s efforts,” Livengood said. “There’s just a point where all the hard work isn’t worth what you’re investing in.”

In place of the festival, representatives from FUSE have opted to conduct a casino-themed event in the fall.

The event, 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at St. Michael School, 515 Jefferson Blvd. in Greenfield, will cost $50 and include dinner, a raffle and poker play, Borgmann said.

Linda Evans, a member of the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of officers, said the organization hasn’t decided what event, if any, will be put on in place of Taste of Hancock County.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.