Food’s the thing at Taste of Bryant

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published July 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 26, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
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Items donated by more than 50 local businesses will be offered during a silent auction at the The Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce Taste of Bryant on Tuesday evening. The auction begins at 5:30 p.m., at the Center at Bishop Park

BRYANT — The summer is not over, but it’s time to don a favorite team’s jersey and be part of Kickin’ It at Bishop, the tailgate-party-themed 14th annual Taste of Bryant, set for Tuesday night.

Last year’s sold out “Taste” attracted more than 700 people to enjoy the atmosphere of a beach party, and Rae Ann Fields, executive director of the Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce, said she expects the same size crowd for this year’s tailgate event.

The sports-party theme, complete with banners, jerseys and pompoms, is an opportunity to sample some of the signature foods offered by 35 local restaurants, bakeries, fast-food retailers, supermarket delis and other food vendors.

“We have some of the favorite foods that Bryant residents have loved for years, as well as some new items,” Fields said. “The IHOP will be bringing their red-velvet pancakes, and at other food booths, people will find anything from chicken cordon bleu to fried green tomatoes.”

The chamber promotes the event as a perfect place for food businesses to introduce new menu items, help new Bryant residents become familiar with culinary specialties offered in town or remind longtime residents to come back in for dinner.

The annual event begins with a silent auction, and this year’s may be the biggest yet.

“It is a huge selection,” Fields said. “It is usually big, but this year’s selection of items is fantastic. We have some clever people who bring in some very unique things.”

Carrying on the tailgate theme, several chamber-member companies are offering opportunities to bid on mini-grills.

“One includes a spatula shaped like a football,” Fields said. “Another member brought in a masterful metal birdhouse. It looks like a little house; it even has windows. My favorite thing about it is its collapsible porch that will drop any squirrel that tries to get in.”

She said one item that will be popular is a 3-foot sculpture of a Razorback.

A new feature this year is being presented by the Bryant Senior Adult Center, located in the Center at Bishop Park.

The senior center will open its offices that night and have a country band, the Steel Kickin’ Band, that includes several of the center’s members,” Fields said. “People come from all over central Arkansas to be there — the senior center is a lively place in Bryant.”

Bryant businesses will also get up nonfood booths to display their materials and answer questions for ticket holders attending, Fields said.

“We won’t have as many of those types of booths this year,” she said. “This is a non-election year, so we won’t have as many political booths.”

“The two-hour food tasting lets you arrive when you want and eat what you want, then leave when you want,” proclaimed a chamber’s announcement of the event. Meanwhile, visitors get to sample a wide variety of culinary creations produced by local restaurants, caterers and chefs.”

The silent auction starts at 5:30 p.m., and food will be served from 6:30 to 8:30.

“Taste of Bryant helps support the chamber’s programs and events that support local businesses,” Fields said. “Last year, we ran out of tickets, and we may do that again this year.”

Advanced admission is $15 for adults, and tickets at the door will be $20. Tickets for children ages 7 to 12 are $5, and children age 6 and younger may eat free. Tickets will be available Monday at the chamber office at 109 Royal Lane in Bryant. For more information, call (501) 847-4702.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or at www.wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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