CHESTERTON | Wafting, billowing aromas of grilled lamb chops, barbecued ribs, and simmering sauces ladled over al dente penne filled the air at Thomas Park in downtown Chesterton on Saturday for the second annual Taste of Duneland.
The event, hosted by the Duneland Business Initiative Group, brings area restaurants and eateries to showcase their finest dishes, such as venison chili, oysters, and giant grilled prawns from Bartlett's Gourmet Grill & Tavern, located in Beverly Shores.
Nicole Bissonnette, proprietor of Bartlett's, along with Gary Sanders, said it was her first time at the event and even before the dinner crowd had arrived, she deemed it a success.
"We've been very, very busy and it's very good," Bissonnette said. "We just want to get the word out about our restaurant and we've handed out a lot of our menus."
Getting the word out and encouraging business is what the event is all about, said Machelle Blount, president of DBIG, but it's also about having a great time with the community.
"This is all for the people and the town and everything has a fantastic time," said Blount, who estimated attendance at about 3,500, the same turnout as last year.
Larry Rizer, of Chesterton, came out with his wife and daughter and said he enjoyed sampling a number of dishes at the event.
"They're awesome," said Rizer of his plate of hot deep fried potato chips drizzled with ketchup, "but I can't wait to try some Mexican food," he said, gesturing to the next booth.
Live music played and children had fun jumping in bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses as diners ate at picnic tables throughout the park.
Nine-year-old friends Dylan Mahaffey and Nick Harmon, both of Chesterton, stopped jumping in the inflatables just long enough to put their food order in with Mahaffey's dad.
"I love ribs," Nick said.