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Kelynn Holenstein's poster art.
Kelynn Holenstein's poster art.

Taste of Buffalo celebrates 40 years of food & fun


Mon, Jun 26th 2023 07:00 am

Nation’s largest two-day food festival returns July 8 & 9

Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops Friendly Markets celebrates its 40th birthday when it returns to downtown Buffalo on Saturday, July 8 (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and Sunday, July 9 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.).

A press release stated, “Join the birthday fun at the nation’s largest two-day food festival, featuring culinary delights from 37 restaurants and food trucks, four New York state wineries, live music and more along Delaware Avenue starting at Chippewa Street and continuing into Niagara Square.”

2023 Chair Elizabeth Mamot said, “For 40 years, the Taste has been bringing the community together to celebrate our diverse foods and the city we love. This year is no exception as the menu includes a variety of Buffalo’s food favorites coupled with an eclectic mix of international, gluten-free and vegetarian offerings – and, of course, birthday cake! This is Western New York’s official invite to join us for plenty of 40th birthday fun.”

The Taste of Buffalo officially kicks off its 40th birthday on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Tops Markets Stage, located on Delaware Avenue in Niagara Square, with an ’80s dance party, giveaways and free birthday cake courtesy of Tops Markets Bakery (while it lasts). Join the “Happy Birthday” singalong with the Singing Cops and local ’80s band Invisible Touch. Meet Paisano, the mascot from Chef’s restaurant, as the Taste honors this Italian staple as one of the event’s founding restaurants.

The birthday celebration continues with bands playing ’80s music on the Tops Markets Stage all weekend. Snap a selfie with the 40 Buf-flamingos on the Federal Courthouse lawn and post it to social media using #TasteofBuffalo, and enter win a gift card from Tops Markets. Get a free photo at Lab Entertainment’s 360 photo booth on Delaware in front of New Era Cap.

The press release said, “As a longtime supporter of FeedMore WNY, the Taste is encouraging festivalgoers to help celebrate its milestone by giving the gift of food to our neighbors in need. Each restaurant and winery will feature signage with a QR code to scan and donate. FeedMore will also have its farm market truck on site Saturday on Delaware at Mohawk, where you can learn about their fresh produce offerings along with other educational information about the organization.”

Ten restaurants are participating in their first Taste of Buffalo: A’mano Fresh Pasta Kitchen, Anchi A La Carte, Avenue29Foods, Days Park Tavern, Genevieve’s Cheesecakes, Golden Hour Treats, Kith & Kin Gluten Free Bakeshop & Bistro, La Casa De Sabores, Milk and Tea, and New Jewel of India. New this year, the festival guide will feature a key designating which menu items are gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian at all 37 participating restaurants and food trucks.

Admission to the Taste of Buffalo is free. Food and beverage tickets can be purchased at the three festival ticket tents in $6 sheets. Cash, Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

Beginning Sunday, June 11, participating Tops locations will sell presale Taste of Buffalo food ticket vouchers at the registers. Vouchers are available in $10 and $60 increments and are redeemable for food tickets at the festival ticket tents. Each $60 voucher comes with four free, nonalcoholic beverages.

Tops continues its support of the Taste of Buffalo as the presenting sponsor for the 20th year.

“There’s nothing quite like the Taste of Buffalo to kick off the summer event season in Western New York,” said John Persons, president, Tops Friendly Markets. “We are thrilled to be celebrating the Taste’s 40th birthday and our 20th year as presenting sponsor of this time-honored tradition that brings together all the best of what Buffalo has to offer.”

The press release stated, “Tops will be ‘Heatin’ up Summer Fun.’ Stop by their big, red-striped tent at the foot of Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square to try all your summer favorites. Menu items include Hanzlian chicken sausage, Sahlen’s hot dogs, pulled pork sliders on King’s Hawaiian rolls with Grillo’s pickles, corn on the cob, side salad with Craisins, mixed fruit cup, and Tops’ signature strawberry shortcake. While there, spin the Tops prize wheel. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the Tops food tent and prize wheel will benefit Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an organization dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need.

“Be sure to get free samples of delicious Tops-brand items at their other tent inside Niagara Square and stop by the Tops Pharmacy tent where you can ‘Build a Better Medicine Cabinet.’ Tops is also bringing you somewhere to get out of the sun with shade tents located throughout the festival grounds.”

The Taste of Buffalo’s community tent, located in Niagara Square, will be hosted by the International Institute of Buffalo.

Organizers said, “Learn about all the wonderful work they’re doing in our city, and sit down and enjoy a meal and conversation with others in our community. Get to know your neighbor!

“Local and national sponsors will offer samples, demonstrations, and interactive activities along with plenty of entertainment and fun. Here’s a ‘taste’ of some of the experiences to check out this year”:

•In partnership with the Independent Health Foundation, each participating restaurant will again offer a “Healthy Option” menu item that is lower in fat and sodium. The Independent Health Foundation tent in Niagara Square is the only place to pick up a free tray to help carry food and drinks (while supplies last). Right next door, Independent Health is bringing, “Healthy to You” with a summer sweepstakes, free giveaways and a variety of ways to stay active and have fun this summer, including bike demonstrations from Reddy Bikeshare.

•Coca-Cola beverages will be at five locations around the festival. Get a free Coke backpack with the purchase of two Coke products at the festival (while they last).

•Genesee Brewing Company will make its debut at the Taste of Buffalo. Organizer said they’re “is thrilled to have the world’s 32nd favorite beer at the festival. Enjoy all your favorite nostalgic Genny brands and Ruby Red Kolsch and Brewhouse IPA – ice-cold and on tap – plus other summer favorites from Seagram’s, White Claw and Four Mile Brewing.”

•Sad Boys Brewing, a new brewery in Buffalo, will be serving up craft beer.

•Stop into Niagara Square and relax in the new lounge. Try a Taste of Buffalo birthday bellini, prosecco cocktails, Resurgence brews on tap, and signature slushies from Tipsy Trailer, and listen to live music.

•Dance or just sit back and listen to live music on five stages located throughout the festival. 1980s bands and DJ Dark Matter, a former Taste of Buffalo chair, will light up the Tops Markets stage in Niagara Square. DJ P-Nasty will spin dance tunes on Mohawk.

The press release noted, “From rockabilly, Cajun and Celtic music, to Caribbean, Gospel and more, there is something for every musical taste provided by Starstruck Productions.”

•The Culinary Stage in the New Era Cap parking lot, sponsored by Buffalo Spree and Artisan Kitchens and Baths, is filled with demonstrations both days starting at noon. Featuring summertime recipes from Tops prepared by chef Darian Bryan and, on Saturday, joined by Mercedes Wilson with Sadie’s Relish and “Making Porchetta at Home” with Michael Parkot of Always Something Farm presented by the New York Pork Producers. Enter the “Cook with Spree” contest to become a sous chef and assist chef Skylar Pratt as she prepares chevre and seasonal fruit dessert pizza. Lean into the mocktail movement and learn how to make a zero-proof charred pineapple and jalapeño mockarita with Bri from Breezy Burrito Bar. Watch the talented Moe Badger, his wife (who cooks) and his mom (who doesn’t). Make a chicken and tomato pasta with Bertolli’s New Rustic Cut Pasta Sauce.

•Explore & More Children’s Museum is hosting the Taste of Fun KidZone again this year. Children ages 10 and under can enjoy fun activities and free samples of Cracker Jack, Lay’s Stax, SweetTarts and Chocolate Craisins (while supplies last).

•I LOVE NY invites guests to take a trip through New York state with its immersive getaway pods. The press release said, “Experience the great outdoors with virtual reality, discover the best of art and culture on a giant coloring wall, strike a pose in a hot air balloon, and more! Spin the prize wheel, and don’t forget to take a selfie with their iconic I LOVE NY sculpture.”

•A blast from the past, check out the two giant digital screens at the festival to watch the Taste’s throwback video vignette series featuring film footage from the Taste of Buffalo archives sponsored by Batavia Downs and Chef’s Restaurant.

•A Volkswagen vehicle lineup will be in Niagara Square. Tour a vehicle with a product specialist and get a complimentary gift (while supplies last).

•Visit the Urgent Dental Care tent to learn how they can help with dental emergencies. Play a game, win a prize and pick up free Sensodyne toothpaste samples (while they last).

•Let the kids climb aboard the full-size First Student school bus. Pick up some swag and talk with recruiters.

•Arm yourself with TUMS from Tops, because “at the Taste, the TUMS man-on-the-street dressed as a taco will be looking for you. If you have TUMS with you, you’ll win cool TUMS merchandise and food tickets.”

•Stop by the New Era Cap flagship store on Delaware Avenue.

•The Erie County Department of Health will provide a private nursing area for moms with infants. Learn life-saving CPR all weekend.

•Salsa in the Park’s dancers will spice up the inside of Niagara Square throughout the weekend. Join in or just watch.

•Additional sponsors include NFTA-Metro; AdPro; 360 PSG; Bond, Schoeneck & King Attorneys; and the New York State Troopers.

Mayor Byron Brown said, “This year we will celebrate 40 years of The Taste of Buffalo. That’s 40 years of one of Buffalo and Western New York’s largest and most popular summer events. Forty years of welcoming some of the best restaurants and beverage makers to downtown Buffalo. And, 40 years of adjustments and creativity, especially in recent years as the Taste adapted to the COVID pandemic and other challenges. I thank Taste of Buffalo organizers, past and present, Taste sponsors, as well as John Persons and the Tops team, for all their hard work over the years as we look forward to another great festival in 2023, and many more in the decades to come.”

Visit tasteofbuffalo.com to view the digital festival guide featuring participating restaurants and their menu items, the festival site map, the Culinary Stage and live music schedule.

More About the Taste of Buffalo

The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops is the nation’s largest two-day food festival. Named winner of USA Today’s 2023 10BEST Reader’s Choice Travel Award Contest for “Best City Food Festival,” the Taste is a not-for-profit organization with more than 1,000 volunteers helping to put on the annual event.

More than $575,000 has been raised at the festival for local charities, in addition to scholarships awarded annually to local high school seniors pursuing a culinary or hospitality-related degree.

For more information, visit tasteofbuffalo.com.

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