WANT TO GO?
A FestivALL event
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Grand Hall Charleston Civic Center
COST: No admittance fee. Tasting tickets cost 50 cents each
INFO: festivallcharleston.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Candy Factory's owners represent the last man and woman standing as Taste-of-ALL Charleston celebrates its 30th anniversary Sunday. Mike and Georgia Howard sold their sweet treats at the first Taste in 1982, then the Taste of Charleston, and have been at it ever since. They return this year as the only original vendors.
He remembers a rocky start. Fourteen vendors set up under tents on the Charleston National Bank Plaza for the inaugural culinary event, which was held on a Wednesday night during the now defunct Charleston Sternwheel Regatta.
"A big storm came up and blew the tents all over. We took all our stuff and quickly moved into the Civic Center," he said. "It was pretty chaotic."
The crowd, estimated at between 4,000 and 6,000, followed the vendors into the Civic Center, which was set up with table seating for about 100. Tickets were 25 cents each and no items cost more than $2. Most restaurants sold out of food in less than an hour.
Many of the vendors at the first Taste, such as Ray's Deli, Brick Oven, Ernie's Esquire, China Imperial and PJ's Number Eight, no longer exist.
The Taste grew to a two-day event with 25 restaurants in 1984 and kicked off the Sternwheel Regatta. In 1992, organizers offered a special Winterfest version in February, which was not deemed a success because of low attendance. A second Taste was held during the normal Regatta time period.
The event was timed to coincide with the opening weekend of the Sternwheel Regatta until the 10-day regatta was cut to five days in 2000. The Taste moved to Labor Day weekend.