A Taste of the Peninsula, a festival that throws together local food and fun lovers with restaurants and other businesses, drew close to 625 chefs, purveyors and, most important, tasters to Mainescape in Blue Hill on Saturday, October 6.
“I think we hit it,” said Don Paine, owner of Mainescape, surveying the people- and music-filled pavilion. “A home run.”
The event is the signature event of the Foliage Food & Wine Festival, now in its seventh year.
Organized by the Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the event serves as a fundraiser for the chamber and helps with their overall fundraising goals for the year, said Chamber President Cullen Schneider, owner of Fairwinds Florist and co-chair of this year’s Taste.
“It’s a great Peninsula event,” said Julie Van der Graaf, owner of the Pentagoet Inn in Castine, who brought pastry chef Heather Jellison and her wares to the Inn’s table. “It draws people in.”
This year, the numbers and the crowd made clear that the event is drawing more in than ever.
“We were here last year. I think this year the turnout is better,” said Chef Devin Finigan of the Blue Hill Inn.
“What’s there to say?” mused co-chair Bill Grindle, surveying the crowd. The chamber asked vendors what could make the event better, he said. In response, the Chamber provided more sitting space and moved the event to Columbus Day weekend for a wider audience.
About 100 more guests came through the gates than last year, he reported the following day.
For those who paid the modest entrance fee, tastes of food, wine and music spilled out of the greenhouse and onto the pavilion behind.
“It’s really nice to put faces with our customers in Blue Hill,” said Megan Wood, co-owner of 44 North coffee in Deer Isle, in her second year at the event.
Twenty-four vendors displayed and provided tastes of everything from oysters on the half shell to chocolates to barbecue.
The chowder contest, judged by David Gray, Denny Robertson and Jonathan Chase, served up the Blue Hill Co-op as winner and a long line of tasters.
66 Steak & Seafood, awarded Best of the Festival, handed tastes of chowder and ribs and pastries in support of Maine Search and Rescue Dogs, a volunteer effort that assists the Warden Service searching for people lost or missing in the woods.
“66 wanted to help our team,” said Troy Morey. “They thought it would be a great way to raise money for our organization.”
New vendors this year were the Halcyon Grange of North Blue Hill, which offered a taste of baked goods while selling raffle tickets to help kick off their capital campaign to build a new community kitchen, and Geoff Warner Studio of Deer Isle, which offered its signature hand-carved owl stools—and cookies.
“When you sit on an owl stool it increases your appetite,” Warner joked.
“It has become a taste in all senses,” said Grindle, who said all vendors are asked to bring “a taste of something.”
“This is their time to shine,” said incoming chamber vice president Scott Gray.