By Joshua Maloni
The Lewiston Council on the Arts and a rising Western New York event planner are reviving a popular, summertime Center Street event.
"We are considering bringing back the Taste of Lewiston - 'A Culinary Art Festival' - which we did for 11 years," LCA Artistic Director Eva Nicklas told the Village Board during the Oct. 3 municipal work session. "We haven't done it since 2006, but we have been approached by Corey McGowan ... who currently organizes the Taste of Niagara Falls and the Taste of Grand Island. He approached us a couple of months ago, and we have gone to his events, which are very well organized, very well promoted, and we love his energy and work ethic. ...
"We would consider doing it, because we would have Corey McGowan working with us and doing the so-called heavy lifting."
On Monday, trustees unanimously approved a motion to grant the LCA and McGowan a facility contract to hold the Taste of Lewiston. Nicklas said they received a letter of support from Lewiston Police Department Chief Frank Previte and the OK from Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co. Chief John Penzotti.
In addition to organizing two culinary events, McGowan rescued the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament after it lost a venue in the spring of 2015. He brought the event to Grand Island, where it has taken place the past two summers. McGowan's self-titled promotions business "is a local event-management company that specializes in street festivals," he said.
McGowan called Lewiston, "a dynamite village with such amazing street festivals already."
"I wanted to approach Eva a couple of months ago, because Taste of Lewiston is something I always hear about," he said. "It's something I want to bring back."
The LCA will hold the Taste of Lewiston from noon until 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, 2017. To accommodate the Taste of Lewiston, Center Street - from Sixth to Fourth streets - will be closed from 7 a.m. until midnight.
McGowan said, "I think Memorial Day weekend would just be perfect for all of our schedules."
Nicklas said, "We would prefer to do it in the spring, as a kickoff to the season."
McGowan noted the Taste of Lewiston would, in fact, be a taste of all Lewiston has to offer.
"We're going to invite non-food vendors from Lewiston to also set up shop and become part of the festival," he said. (Guests) can enjoy everything Lewiston has to offer, rather than just buy food."
Trustees tabled the motion two weeks ago, citing a concern that residents have grown tired of preapproved and pre-existing Center Street summer closings. Next year, the village's main thoroughfare will shut down for the Art Festival, Historic Lewiston Jazz Festival and Harvest Festival weekends. It also will be temporally closed for Memorial Day and Niagara County Peach Festival parades.
"Believe me, we all love festivals. But we have talked about this ... a lot recently, and we're getting very, very close to the saturation point with festivals," Mayor Terry Collesano said Oct. 3. "Do we really want more festivals?"
Moreover, "Parking - that has become a very big problem with all of us," he said. "We want to talk to the festival organizers to see if you have any suggestions."
This week, Collesano said, "(The Taste of Lewiston) was very successful when we had it before. ... I would like to see it start up again."
He added the proviso, "We'll try it for a year, and see how it works out. If we get a lot of complaints, then we'll have to take a look at the issue again and reassess it."
On Oct. 3, Trustee Vic Eydt said organizers should give preference to village eateries, and not bring in excess outside vendors.
"That's the way it should be," he said.
"That is our absolute goal, is to have it be a true taste of Lewiston," Nicklas said.
The LCA organizes the Lewiston Art Festival and the Marble Orchard Ghost Walks.