WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | The annual Taste of Porter County got off to a hot start and ended with some wind and rain.
“The extreme heat killed us,” event organizer Joe Duron said of Saturday's 90-plus degrees.
Though people came to buy food from the 17 vendors at the Porter County Expo Center, they didn't stay long, he said.
Duron was hoping for better weather Sunday, but shortly after the event opened at 11 a.m., the wind started to pick up and rain later moved in.
Now in its fourth year, the event showcased local eateries such as Bon Femme Cafe, ZaZa Ristorante Italiano, Industrial Revolution, The Coop and Cabos Mexican Restaurant.
It also featured a car show, games and activities for kids, an indoor and outdoor crafts show with more than 100 vendors, and live entertainment by local bands.
“The whole purpose of the event is to be affordable and family friendly,” Duron said.
Among the new food vendors this year was The Coop Specialty Chicken Restaurant, 3400 N. Calumet Ave., Valparaiso.
The restaurant, which opened six weeks ago, hopes to use the Taste to increase its exposure in the community, said business consultant Bryan Siewin.
Heather Holman, of Valparaiso, and D.J. Wilson, of Portage, grabbed lunch at The Coop before returning to the car show where they had cars on display.
Holman said she brought her hot pink Mitsubishi Eclipse and Wilson, his Honda Civic.
“We're the newer generation (of cars),” Wilson said.
Farther down the midway, Saverio Casta, owner of ZaZa Ristorante Italiano, 3534 Calumet Ave. in Valparaiso, was trying to shore up his booth to withstand the wind ripping through it.
Casta said he has been at the Taste every year since it began.
His offerings this year included his four cheese ravioli with Porcini mushroom sauce, Italian beef and cannolis, a Sicilian pastry. Sales on Saturday were good, he said.
“We sold out of the beef,” Casta said.
Inside the Expo Center building filled with craft vendors, Valparaiso resident Kristi Crowe and her mother, Kathy Spetz, perused a display of Solar Light Jars.
Crowe said she brought her '55 Chevrolet to the car show and came back to look at the jars, which she had seen earlier.
Karen Payne, of Indianapolis, created the jars, filled with decorations of birds, butterflies and flowers. They soak up the sun by day and emit a soft candlelight glow at night, Payne said.