In response to COVID-19, 'at home' event will replace traditional festival to support local restaurants, wineries and FeedMore WNY
Together with Tops Friendly Markets, organizers of the 2020 Taste of Buffalo on Monday announced plans for a virtual version of this summer's food festival. To ensure the health and safety of guests, the event’s board of directors made the decision to introduce “Taste of Buffalo at Home,” a virtual food festival.
The 37th edition of the Taste, the nation's largest two-day food festival, will take place on July 11-12 on the event's Facebook and Instagram channels. Taste of Buffalo at Home will embody the spirit of a live festival, bringing a fun, community-centric atmosphere into peoples’ homes with food, cooking demonstrations, live music, contests, games and more – all hosted online.
At the heart of Taste of Buffalo at Home will be the “Taste Takeout” initiative. More than half of the restaurants, food trucks and wineries that were slated to participate in the original event will instead prepare special food and beverage deals available for takeout at their establishments beginning that weekend and continuing the following week while supplies last. A full list of participants, menu items and information on how to order will be released in the coming weeks.
"In Western New York and around the world, the restaurant industry has been devastated by our new reality as a result of COVID-19. We can't be together in person, so our board of directors took a leap of faith and reinvented our festival in a virtual format to support the restaurants we all love so much," said Erin Collins, 2020 Taste of Buffalo chair. "Taste of Buffalo at Home would not be possible without generous support from Tops Friendly Markets, and we are so grateful to have a partner that shares our love for food and community. We hope you'll join us this July – at home – as we come together to eat, drink and Taste!"
An interactive, virtual festival guide will feature the full menu of Taste takeout offerings, which will be announced in June, plus a schedule of online events with information and links to all of the various happenings. Here are a few of the other exciting online experiences Taste fans can look forward to:
Interactive Cooking Demonstrations and Competitions
Cook along with Taste chefs or just watch delicious summertime recipes being prepared. Buffalo’s own Singing Cops will compete from their own kitchens, too.
Tops Virtual Wheel of Prizes
Spin the wheel to win prizes from a computer or mobile device – just like being at the Tops tent.
Live Music Presented by Tops
Local musicians and bands will perform throughout the weekend, streaming live on the Taste Facebook page.
Taste of Fun KidZone
Explore and More Children’s Museum will host interactive activities that kids and families can create in their own homes.
"As a longtime sponsor of the Taste of Buffalo, we wanted to continue the tradition of giving back to the communities we serve by supporting this event," said John Persons, president and chief operating officer for Tops Friendly Markets. "Now more than ever it is important for us to come together as a community to support one another, especially our local restaurants, wineries and food trucks who have been impacted by COVID-19. At Tops, we applaud event organizers of the Taste for coming up with this innovative way to keep the event vibrant and engaging as all of us adapt to the new virtual event landscape that 2020 brings. We can’t wait to see everyone virtually July 11 and 12 as together we gather around our breakfast bars, backyard patio sets, and dinner tables to enjoy the best that Buffalo has to offer.”
Virtual Food Tickets to benefit FeedMore WNY
Giving back to the community has always been a significant part of the Taste's mission, so it was important to organizers to build that element into the virtual event, as well. Online guests will be able to purchase $5 sheets of virtual food tickets as a donation to FeedMore WNY.
“The Taste of Buffalo has been a longtime partner of FeedMore WNY, and we are grateful for the continued support of this wonderful event and our compassionate community,” said Tara A. Ellis, president and CEO of FeedMore WNY. “There is an incredible need for food assistance in Western New York as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis. Thanks to the support of events like Taste of Buffalo at Home, we can continue to provide nutritious food to our vulnerable community members of all ages.”
Support from City of Buffalo
The Taste of Buffalo also wishes to thank its partners in local government who have provided guidance during these difficult times, and whose support helps make the event possible.
“Every year, the Taste of Buffalo showcases the delicious foods our city and region are known for, as well as shining a light on our many diverse restaurants. Going to a virtual format will continue the tradition of the Taste of Buffalo by making great foods available via take-out and food trucks," City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said. "The virtual and interactive food festival will allow the long tradition of the Taste of Buffalo to continue in a safe and innovative way."
About the Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops
The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops is the nation's largest two-day food festival. The event is a not-for-profit organization with more than 1,000 volunteers helping to put on the annual event. Approximately $538,000 has been raised at the festival for local charities, including five $1,000 scholarships awarded annually to local high school seniors pursuing a culinary or hospitality-related degree. For more information, visit tasteofbuffalo.com, and on social at @tasteofbuffalo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tops Markets LLC is headquartered in Williamsville and operates 157 full-service supermarkets with five additional franchise stores and is the largest private, for-profit employer in Western New York. As a leading grocery retailer in New York, northern Pennsylvania, and western Vermont, and with the support of 14,500 associates, its core mission is to help its communities flourish. Tops supports programs that seek to eradicate hunger and disease; promote the education of youth; and to ensure the reduction of environmental waste and energy consumption while providing customers with sustainably sourced, high-quality products. For more information, visit www.topsmarkets.com.