CHESTERTON | The main courses included Carolina BBQ pork belly sliders, ricotta gnocchi, tomato sausage penne pasta and spicy chicken rigatoni, while desserts included tiramisu and chocolate pot de crème.
Diners washed it all down in a beer and wine tent Saturday at the Taste of Duneland, sponsored by the Duneland Business Initiative Group, in Thomas Centennial Park.
The festival, which ran from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., began six years ago, along with other Chesterton festivals, to stimulate the local economy, Vice President Laura Layman said.
“There was nothing going on and people were traveling to other towns to go to festivals,” Layman said. “We wanted to pump up our businesses and give our residents something to do. This event highlights truly local restaurants.”
Offering Duneland’s best cuisine were 15 local restaurants, including Wagner’s, Lucrezia Café, Leroy’s Hot Stuff, Lemon Tree, Taj Curry House, Popolano’s and Sage.
For just a few dollars, diners made the rounds and sampled delicacies from each one, while kids had fun in bounce houses and bands played live music.
As she finished up a half-slab of Wagner’s ribs, Vessa Julovich said she has lived in Chesterton for six years, but had never been to the Taste.
“So far, it’s really good,” Julovich said. “Noak’s caramel cheese popcorn is really good, from top to bottom.”
Other specialties included tamales, tostadas, and tacos from El Salto, El Cantarito and the League of United Latin American Citizens; the Chesterton Lions Club’s famous Swedish potato sausage and fresh sweet corn; and chicken kabobs and shawarma bowls from the Lemon Tree.
Although the morning rain put a damper on the lunch crowd, Layman breathed a sigh of relief when the sun peeked through the parted clouds in the early afternoon.
“I’m glad the rain stopped,” Layman said. “People are coming …. we are expecting a big night.”
Karen and Kevin Lynch, of Miller Beach, said they frequent most of the restaurants represented.
“I grew up in this area,” Karen Lynch said. “The music is nice, it’s free, and it’s the last thing of the season. It’s a nice way to wrap it up.”