By Erin O'Connor
WEST SPRINGFIELD At the Springfield Country Club last Tuesday, chefs that will be preparing food for this upcoming Taste of the Valley, presented a sneak preview of their food items to local guests.
This year's hosts of the Taste include the town of West Springfield and the Rotary Club.
Eric Szotka from the Ben & Jerry's Company offered Chocolate Therapy and Oatmeal raisin Ice cream.
Gina and Anthony Calabrese offered spicy and crisp buffalo wings for 'Carol's Concessions' that will also be serving sorbet and fried dough.
Pintu of Pintu's Indian Restaurant sauteed a red masala sauce that bathed fresh Mahi-mahi fish, great for sustenance when walking around the 'Taste'.
Something tasted good at Mama Mia's Pizzeria because the pasta was first to go at this 'Tasting'.
Mama Mia's will be serving ziti broccoli & chicken and meatball grinders at the 'Taste'.
There are several new vendors this year Take 5 of Agawam had scrumptious stuffed mushrooms that they will be serving along with BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.
Cracker Barrel, also a newbie this year, will refresh visiters with their Blackberry Cobbler. A perfect ending to a day at the Fair.
"The food is excellent," said Robert MacDonald, member of the Rotary Club in West Springfield.
The seventh Annual West Side's Taste of the Valley will be serving over 50 food items and will take place on the Town Common on Park Street on June 8-11.
In order to cleanse your palette the Taste shall feature a variety of soft and hard drinks that will include a variety of fine premium wines.
There will be a grand raffle to benefit the Rotary Club and the West Springfield High Varsity Cheerleaders. The raffle will be sponsored by Hannoush Jewelers with the top prize being a necklace worth over $1,000. Other prices are to include tickets to the Red Sox, The Theatre Project and the Big E.
The Taste will feature 30 hours of round-the-clock talent on two stages with everything from local bands to Grammy nominated entertainers.
Participants in the Taste can purchase food with cash, instead of tokens and ticket booths with be set up solely for the sale of beverages.
The First West Side's Taste Battle of the Bands will take place on June 10 on the bandshell from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Fourteen local teen bands will compete for $300 top prizes. The competition will be judged by Tony DiGiore, member of the West Springfield Cultural Council; Jay Prokop; sales director at Falcetti Music; and Jim Polito, reporter for WGGB and part time musician.
West Springfield's own C&J Amusements will run rides for the kiddies. There will also be teen rides, pony rides and face painting.
On June 9 it will be Affordable Auto Glass' Cruise Night at 5:30 p.m. Dozens of vintage cars travel on a national route that will make a stop on the Town Common for several hours while en route to their next destination.
Local car owners are invited to participate in a competition where three qualified judges will give best in show prizes. No registration or fee is required.
Don't miss the Rose Champagne Belly Dancers on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. They will perform and then offer a lesson for the audience.
The Ramapogue Society will offer tours of the Old Day House on Saturday and Sunday from 12 - 3 p.m. Guided tours are $3 adults and $1 children and will meet at Park Street adjacent to the Taste's Site.
The West Side's Taste is a collaborative effort from town personnel that includes Health, DPW, Fire, Police, Parks, Council on Aging, and Mayor's office as well as the volunteerism of service groups that include West Springfield's Lion Club. The Taste also depends on financial and in-kind support of many local businesses, primarily those located in West Springfield.
Parking is on the street, in municipal lots, and in many neighboring business lots on the weekend including numerous businesses in the area. The site is handicap accessible and parking spots are allocated. No bicycles or dogs (except seeing eye dogs) are allowed on the grounds.
For more info about the Taste go to the website at www.westsidetaste.com.