08/16/06 — You came. You tasted. You voted.

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You came. You tasted. You voted.

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 16, 2006 1:51 PM

Raspberry cheesecake, spicy chicken wings and pepperoni pizza lined the tables.

Music filled the air as visitors did the electric slide and macarena.

The 15th annual Taste of Wayne County Tuesday at Wayne Community College was one big party -- and a chance to eat, drink and be merry for a good cause.

In addition to allowing local restaurants the chance to showcase their signature menu items, the Taste of Wayne kicked off the 2006 United Way of Wayne County campaign.

One of the veteran participants, Pizza Inn, was back again this year. Area supervisor Sean Nielsen said the restaurant tried some specialty pizzas this year including bacon cheeseburger and chicken fajita, along with dessert pizzas and its famous cinnamon stromboli.

Pizza Inn competed in this year's newest food judging category -- Best In Show.

"We tried to do what we've actually done every year and get our booth really decorated nice for a good presentation," Nielsen said. "It was intriguing to be able to compete not in just the pizza category, but to be able to put on a better show. And it sounded like a fun thing to do."

Pizza Inn prepared enough food for 1,000 people this year with 150 pizzas.

"It's fun to be part of the community, and it's a great way to show people our product," he said. "I think it's a great event and it's just a joy doing it every year. It's also nice being outdoors on this beautiful day."

Another of the 22 restaurants at the event, Bonfire's Tortilla Bar, was participating for its second year. The restaurant's employees showcased their skills by making 6-foot burritos, which visitors then topped with their choice of several homemade salsas.

Owner Joe Kestler said he would have made the burritos even longer, but he ran out of table.

The smell of marinated grilled chicken tenderloins drew people to the Texas Steakhouse and Saloon booth. The restaurant also served its signature menu item, sautéed button mushrooms.

Manager Robert Nash said Texas Steakhouse has participated in the Taste many times. "We had lots of requests for our ribs again this year, but we decided to do something a little bit different," he said.

Texas Steakhouse keeps coming back to the event because "we want to support the community," Nash said. "United Way is an excellent cause. It's a fun event, and people are out here having a great time."

Brenda Warren was one of those having a good time. She was very excited to find guacamole in a jar at Mission Foods.

"I went to the Wayne Memorial fruit stand and had some really good strawberries," she said. "We're making our way around and having fun. We're looking forward to trying a little bit of everything."

Ms. Warren had her 5-year-old daughter, Christina, with her and both of their plates were full of goodies.

Donna Amon's favorite food was the garlic knots at Brooklyn Pizzeria. "Bistro 54/54 was excellent with its pasta," she said. "And I liked the fried zucchini at Koi Asian Bistro."

Ms. Amon said she enjoyed the good weather, good food and good music. "I think this is a good way for the community to come out," she said. "Food is always a good way to come together for a good cause."

Event Chairman Sally Worrell said she heard many comments from visitors who loved having enough room to walk around and sit down and room for their children to run around.

"We had shade trees and an awesome breeze," Mrs. Worrell said. "We had plenty to eat and drink."

She estimated that close to 1,000 people attended this year's Taste of Wayne.

Mrs. Worrell said the event keeps going strong year after year because "we try to think up something different each year. And next year, we'll add something else."