Taste of Suffolk coming Saturday

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Participants in last year’s jalapeno-eating contest brave the heat and attempt to eat as many peppers as they can.

The Taste of Suffolk is coming up this weekend, and organizers are expecting thousands of people to visit downtown Suffolk for the event.

This is the fourth annual event, which showcases Suffolk restaurants. Eateries line the streets to serve up samples from their regular menus as well as special offerings.

In addition, the event will include a tribute to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, an expanded children’s area, entertainment and merchandise vendors.

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“We have a lot to offer,” said Lakita Frazier, director of Parks and Recreation for the city. “I feel that this year is going to be a wonderful event.”

This is the fourth annual Taste of Suffolk event. The inaugural one was the brainchild of Councilman Charles Parr, who saw a similar event in another city and wanted to bring it to Suffolk.

Since that first event, the party has grown to include about 4,000 people last year.

“We’re hoping we get that and even more this year,” Frazier said.

In addition to the food offerings by many local restaurants, residents will be able to visit downtown shops and see what they have to offer.

“I hope it helps encourage customers to come back on other days and shop with these wonderful businesses,” Frazier said.

Responding to suggestions from visitors to past events, the city expanded the children’s area at the event to include a rock-climbing wall, a children’s stage with puppet shows and a magic show, and more.

A history tent at the event will feature a pictorial history of Suffolk.

Popular contests are back, including the jalapeno-eating contest, a peanut-shelling contest and a cornhole tournament.

And public safety officials will have demonstrations on safety preparedness, new equipment and capabilities. The 10th anniversary commemoration ceremony will include guest speakers U.S. Coast Guard Commanding Officer of Sector Hampton Roads Capt. Mark Ogle, Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson, City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn, Fire and Rescue Chief Mark Outlaw and Chief of Police Thomas Bennett. This special presentation will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Taste of Suffolk is free and open to the public, but some restaurants do charge for their food samples.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in historic downtown Suffolk. For more information, visit www.suffolkva.us/TasteofSuffolk or call 514-7267.