In the midst of many beloved activities being cancelled, fans of the popular Taste of Oakdale can rest assured that the annual Chamber event will still be taking place, albeit with some new modifications.
Taste of Oakdale will occur as a drive through as opposed to a walk through and is set for Thursday, Aug. 27. The event has been held for the past several years in the Gene Bianchi Community Center but officials are shifting gears this year in response to the pandemic. Patrons will begin at a checkpoint somewhere in Oakdale yet to be determined and get a wristband and a map to guide them around town to participating businesses.
“You’ll have to drive to each spot instead of us bringing all the businesses to the Community Center,” Trisha Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Oakdale Chamber of Commerce, explained. “There’s no one way to go, it’s up to (patrons) where they want to go, and most locations have parking.”
Among the participating businesses as of press time on Tuesday were Cocina Michocana, Café Bravo, Fit Republic’s GoFresh meals, and more. The Chamber is currently trying to encourage businesses in the same parking lots to all participate so that it’s easier for tasters to maneuver between sampling.
“It’s the same as Taste of Oakdale, they’ll each have a portion,” Brown explained of restaurants serving up samples.
Instead of eating a full meal at each location, patrons will be served a portion so that they can sample from businesses all over town. Portion sizes will be dependent on each business, as it was at the Community Center in previous years.
The 12th annual event will run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., officials added.
Taste of Oakdale is also famous for having patrons vote “Best Of” in different categories. Right now, Brown said they are exploring voting with a digital format, but if they do so they seriously encourage participants to remember to vote for their favorite eats at the end of the night.
“It’s really going to depend on the logistics,” Brown relayed.
As for COVID-19 restrictions, the event is moving to a drive through and primarily outdoors because so many people are not allowed indoors. Given that, there isn’t currently a limit for how many tickets the Chamber is selling, since space won’t be an issue. Moreover, patrons are encouraged to wear masks when in close proximity with others and only remove them when eating.
“It’s going to be an adventure, that’s for sure,” Brown mused. “Everyone has to learn how to do business in a new way.”
Ticket prices have also been reduced from $25 to $15 when ordered online this year.
Visit https://www.oakdalechamber.com/events/taste-of-oakdale/ or call 209-847-2244 for more information on buying tickets and where to start the tasting tour.