Tasteful event good for Bryant Chamber

By Wayne Bryan Published August 7, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

Chef Alex Leven with Dinner’s Ready gets the fire going as he prepares bananas Foster for guests passing through the line during the Taste of Bryant on July 31.

BRYANT — Although ticket sales were down a bit at this year’s Taste of Bryant, attendance was about the same, and Bryant Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rae Ann Fields said the July 31 event was a success, raising more than $10,000 for chamber programs.

“We may have sold 15 tickets less than last year,” Fields said a few days after the event, “but we gave each vendor six tickets, and they seemed to be used. The silent auction had a great response. It was a very good event for us.”

The results of the auction were not in when Fields talked with the Tri-Lakes Edition. She said 19 items were not taken during the Taste of Bryant night at The Center at Bishop Park. The chamber was still taking bids on those items until noon Wednesday.

Many of the 33 food vendors who had booths at the event said they had never given away so much food in so little time. Ray Pettit of Sanctified Cakes in Bryant, who was attending his first Taste of Bryant as a vendor, said he underestimated the number of people who would want to sample his cake bites.

“I brought 1,000 cake bites of several different kinds, and they went quickly,” he said. “Next year, I will have to bring more.”

Pizza Hut brought in 20 large pizzas, five boxes of bread sticks, 10 chicken items and 40 individual chocolate layer cakes. Mitch Fleming, the area supervisor for the company, said everyone wanted to try the restaurant’s new chicken items.

“Almost all the chicken is gone and about a third of the pizza, and it hasn’t been an hour yet,” he said.

Across the floor, Kum & Go in Bryant had brought in chicken strips, tacos and pizzas, said Leslie Lawrence, manager of the Bryant store.

“In 45 minutes, about a third of our boxes are empty,” she said. “The tacos and the breakfast pizza have been the most popular items so far.”

While ticket holders at the Taste of Bryant made their way from booth to booth along the perimeter of the main room in The Center, politicians strategically positioned themselves around the crowd to talk with local residents, shake hands and remind voters that this is an election year.

For those who wanted to kick up their heels a bit, the band Cowboy Way played on the stage in the Bryant Senior Center at the south end of The Center. Couples danced as the band played for several hours.

Abe’s Old Feed House offered crawfish bites — a fried mixture of crawfish, spiced batter and corn. Workers at the booth said they had given out two large pans full of the bites in just a few minutes and had opened the third just over 30 minutes into the event.

Families brought their own trays so they could try some of the best dishes offered by the restaurants, fast-food establishments and caterers in Saline County, from steak to mini-cupcakes. People at the event were finding tables — gathering with friends or sharing a table with strangers who were probably friends before the event was over.

Meanwhile, Boy Scouts from Bryant were taking out the trash with efficient teamwork.

“I want to say something special about the Boy Scouts who helped us during the Taste of Bryant,” Fields said. “They were here early to help the vendors bring in the food, and they stayed late helping with the cleanup.”

The chamber of commerce also received aid from the Mayors Youth Advisory Committee of Bryant, Fields said.

“They were here all day helping us set up,” she said. “They painted some of the decorations and placed signs on the rails. Once the event started, they ran the children’s area.”

The Taste of Bryant is an annual event that helps fund the chamber’s service programs.

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

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

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