Kutztown Rotary Club’s Taste of Kutztown 2014 offered a taste of the area’s wines, beer, food and businesses on June 7.
Chanting TOK with friends, Sandra Peters said, “TOK is the place to be. It’s good wine and it’s a good fundraiser for the Kutztown Rotary.”
“I think we have more than 1,500 people here,” said Kutztown Rotarian Jim Springer, owner of Dunkelberger’s Jewelry, Kutztown. “We’re having fun.”
This is the second year the Rotary Club changed the format of the event, closing down Main Street for the day.
“We’ve doubled and tripled what we want to do,” said Springer, talking about Rotary increasing its support to programs such as the Potato Project, scholarships and dam building in India. “We’ve expanded everything we possibly could do in this area to help support the local community and internationally, due to this event.”
Springer said Rotary is all about “building community and bridging continents.”
A portion of the Rotary Club event’s proceeds will be donated to The Potato Project, an organization founded by Walt and Linda Zawaski to help feed the needy. A large potato sat out in front of their stand during the event.
In 2014 The Potato Project volunteers planted 20,000 pounds of seed potatoes and last year they harvested 200,000 pounds of potatoes. All labor and donations are voluntary and the potatoes are donated through the Greater Berks Food Bank to more than 8,000 local households.
“You try to do the best with what you have to serve the needs of the people who are out there,” said Linda.
More than 21 wineries, mead and beer merchants from the Lehigh, Berks, Mason-Dixon, Bucks and Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trails were represented, as well as numerous food, crafts, arts and business vendors.
“What I enjoy are the different levels of wine and education,” said Springer.
New this year was a wine tasting seminar at St. John’s U.C.C. with a panel: consultant Steven Giles, Richard Blair of Blair Vineyards and Brad Knapp of Pinnacle Ridge Winery both of Kutztown, Victor Ykoruk of Karamoor Estate Wines in Fort Washington and consultant Hillary Gary, who also works at Blair.
“This area can compete with anyone,” said Giles during the seminar. “The six wines we’re tasting today are six of the best in the eastern part of the state.”
“We’re talking about legislation and trying to get more support from the state,” said Knapp about the seminar. “It’s good to talk about the wines and learn about them.”
Among the lessons learned, Knapp shared the smell and look of a good wine. “Wet dog,” for example, was one smell that stands out as a warning of a corked wine.
Leslie Long of Molltown and her bestfriend Annette Jacek of Harrisburg attended both the seminar and the Taste of Kutztown.
“What’s not to like? It’s Kutztown,” said Long.
“It’s a nice small town experience, to experience the local wineries, the local people and the local stores,” said Jacek. “It’s just a fun day.”
Kristen Barilla of Schnecksville, Bryan Rennie of Kutztown, Tara Adams and Chelsy Bechtold, both of Allentown, all agreed Taste of Kutztown was a great time with friends to taste the different beers and wine.
“I enjoy seeing the community out on Main Street,” added Rennie.
Entertainment was provided by the Acoustic Road Show, an organization founded and promoted by Butch Imhoff, who said, “I showcase local and regional musical talent all over Eastern Pa. I’ve been doing it for the past 16 years.”
There were two stages, one at either end of Main Street.
Event-goers could traverse Main Street sampling and purchasing food as diverse as dried Asian Pears and pear butter at Subarashii Kudamono’s table (based in Kempton), Shagbark Hickory Syrup at Razz’s Hickory Syrup’s table, homemade Italian and Slovak food at BabaNonna, Maple Cotton Candy at Ridge Valley Farm, various salsas at Casa de Jorge and/or pizza and confections at tables set out by Main Street eateries including Mamma’s Italian Delight and Pop’s Malt Shoppe. These were, of course, but a few of the food vendors.
Other vendors represented included churches, insurance companies, auto services, artist collectives, the Kutztown Community Partnership, Reading Health System and Sorrelli Jewelry, to name just a few, as well as The Kutztown Area Patriot.
Berks-Mont Newspapers intern Steven Stolley contributed to this article.