VALPARAISO | The Porter County courthouse lawn was rockin’ Saturday evening, as hundreds sampled delicacies from downtown restaurants at the 2013 Jano Concert on the Square.
Eleven eateries offered free samples of their best dishes, including Valley’s black bean hummus tacos, Don Quijote’s garlic sautéed mushrooms, Margarita’s carnitas in a verde sauce, and the Silver Spoon’s chocolate covered strawberries. Local band the Fresh Hops kept the mood festive as the evening turned surprisingly cool.
Jim “Jano” Janesheski, founder of Jano Concerts on the Square, said the event, which attracts 600-700 people, is in its seventh year.
“It’s not about taking people’s money,” said Jano. “Most of the people who come here eat at our local restaurants. This is the restaurants’ way of giving back to the community.”
The event attracts both first-timers and repeat customers.
“I’ve been to every one of them,” said Jean Elam, of Valparaiso. “We think it’s great. We have such a good time."
Elam said she was tasting “some of everything,” including meatballs and a pulled pork sandwich.
Elam’s daughter, Robin Wiergacz, said the “community spirit” brings her to Jano Fest every year.
“I don’t think many other towns do this,” said Wiergacz, munching on chips and guacamole from Margarita’s.
Stephanie Overbo, and her sister Julie Wisner, danced to the music while Overbo’s husband, James Overbo, enjoyed the band while standing still.
James Overbo, originally from Austin, Tex., was impressed by the tunes and the crowd.
“This has the same feel (as Austin) but on a smaller scale,” said Overbo. “It has a family-friendly atmosphere ... very inviting.”
The trio had dinner at Pikk’s before wandering across the street to the courthouse.
“We’re always supporting local business,” said Wisner. “This is incredible. Everyone’s so generous. This is why I love Valpo…..exactly because of things like this.”