When Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce officials recently said they believed the 2015 Taste of Safety Harbor was going to be “bigger and better than ever”, they weren’t just trying to hype the event.
As it turned out, their prediction was right on the money.
A record crowd turned up at the Safety Harbor Spa for the second consecutive year, as more than 400 people packed the resort on Monday night for the ninth edition of the annual food-and-drink fest.
In fact the event was so big, organizers were forced to stop selling tickets due to the Spa’s capacity limits.
“We were a little concerned about the attendance when people were not buying tickets early, but then we ended up selling out and having to turn people away,” Chamber chairman Paul Peiffer told Safety Harbor Connect.
“That reflects well on the fact that we had a good event, and as we continue to grow we’ll figure out how to manage it better next year.”
Those who did make it inside the Bayshore Boulevard resort on a chilly Martin Luther King, Jr. evening weren’t disappointed.
Nearly two-dozen area restaurants and bars were spread out between the Baranoff and Four Springs ballrooms, with everything from chicken wings to cheese ravioli with champagne mushroom sauce available for sampling.
In addition to the wide assortment of food and beverages, the 2015 Taste of Safety Harbor featured live entertainment from Shaun Hopper and Erica DiCeglie, among others, a room full of silent auction items, and a couple of 50/50 raffles, which netted two winners $200.00 each.
“The food is great and the turnout is awesome,” Safety Harbor mayor Andy Steingold said as he sampled Odet’s Brew, a beer that the chamber had formulated specially for the event.
“They may have to expand the venue next year to accommodate all these people.”
At the conclusion of the three-hour event, Peiffer and Chamber executive director Susan Peterson announced the three People’s Choice award winners voted by the attendees.
The Bar Fly Saltwater Grill took home the Platinum Award as the top vote getter, with fellow 2013 finalist the Sandwich on Main taking third place this year and newcomer Southern Fresh earning the second spot.
“We are so thankful for all the love and support and truly appreciate each of you for choosing us as the first place winner at last nights event,” Bar Fly owners Jeff and Celeste Harrell wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“We are so pleased to be part of a wonderful community and congratulate our friends at Southern Fresh and Sandwich on main for getting second and third and being there with us.”
As with most events of this scale, not everything went smoothy, especially considering the majority of guests arrived – and left – within the first hour of the evening.
Many vendors ran out of food early, and diners complained of having to wait in long lines just to taste single items at the end of the procession.
But despite those issues, the 2015 Taste of Safety Harbor was definitely considered a success for the organizers, participants and attendees.
“The food was terrific, the unique beer was a big hit, and people said they really liked the event,” Peiffer said at the end of the night.
As for the few glitches, he said he understands they will have to make some changes to adjust to the growing popularity of the event.
“I think we’ve learned a lot now that we’re in our ninth year, but we’re still learning.”
“We’ll take a look at everything, see where we can improve, and hopefully come back with an even better Taste of Safety Harbor next year.”
Here’s a gallery of sights from the 2015 Taste of Safety Harbor: