The annual Taste of the Peninsula brought more than 700 guests to the Mainescape greenhouse and grounds on October 13 under a fair autumn sky.
“It’s more than expecting locals to turn out,” said Cullen Schneider of the Blue Hill Chamber of Commerce. “Inviting people who are less than an hour away to check out how cool our area is, is the way to go.”
The signature event of the annual Foliage, Food & Wine Festival, the Taste highlights the varied flavors offered by local restaurants, farms and purveyors and serves as a fundraiser for the Blue Hill Chamber of Commerce.
More than 200 additional people passed through the gate than did last year, said Schneider, an organizer of the event. “Advertising in Bangor helped. Our exit polling showed there were a lot of people from that area.”
With music provided by the George Stevens Academy jazz combo 7-Up and Deer Isle’s Isle of Jazz, over 30 vendors provided a taste of what they offer to customers on a regular basis, including local organizations like—to name just a few—the Halcyon Grange, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, and Blue Hill Historical Society.
While many locals mark their calendars in advance for the annual festival, others wandered in by happenstance.
“It’s a lucky coincidence,” said David Reeves, from Orange, Conn., visiting friends in Blue Hill with his wife Virginia. They were on their first tasting, at the booth run by Sandy’s Provisions of Brooklin. “If the rest is like this, it’ll be a great day.”
For the second year running, 66 Steak & Seafood of Blue Hill was voted “Best of the Fest”—offering among several tastes, Asian pork buns.
“We only have 500 of them,” joked chef and owner Fritz Knoll, who, like last year, marked all donations for the Maine Search and Rescue Dogs organization (more about this organization at mesard.org). After the festival, Knoll said that his restaurant raised about $420 for the all-volunteer organization, which, he added, does not receive any state or federal funding for their rescue work. While Knoll said he was happy to receive the designation for the second year in a row, he was more pleased to help raise awareness for MESARD, which had a volunteer and dog at the event.
The voting was close, said Schneider. With around 300 ballots circulating among festival goers, “we had three vendors who were neck and neck.”
For this year, the festival served up a pie contest instead of the traditional chowder contest. Judges Bill Grindle, Jonathan Chase and Brooke Dojny, in a blind taste test, awarded Donna Doyen, of Wave Walkers Bed & Breakfast in Surry, first prize in both categories, pumpkin and apple. She received two custom-made Rackliffe pie dishes for her baking prowess.
This is the eighth year for the Taste of the Peninsula, and at its peak hours, the greenhouse was filled to capacity with guests three-deep at many vendor tables.
Pentagöet Inn owner Julie Van der Graaf kept busy passing out samples of clam chowder, pausing briefly to survey the scene. “It’s a great crowd,” she said.