|WEST SPRINGFIELD The Seventh Annual West Side's Taste of the Valley, presented June 8 11, at the Town Common was a win-win event according to its organizers. It was a successfully-ran Taste, attendance was up over last year, and the changes made worked out very well. Eight months of preparation by the Taste Committee came together to please all involved.|
This year marked the largest attendance with 60,000 participating. The increase is attributed to excellent weather on Friday and Sunday.
A good size crowd was present to enjoy the country music on Thursday, in spite of drizzling rain and clouds.
When the sun shined on Friday afternoon, thousands came out for the three oldies' music groups. A Ray of Elvis attracted the largest of any one performer at all of the past Tastes to date.
Saturday morning's Battle of the Bands brought a huge following of younger people. Later in the day the Rose Champagne Belly Dancers attracted audiences of men, women, and small children the latter taking part in a mini-class given on the lawn.
This year marked the first that the Taste hired nationally recognized talent, and this made the difference on Saturday evening increased numbers, in spite of the unusual cold weather and wind. Young Neal & The Vipers (the national act) was followed by Carpe Diem (a quartet of local young men with a large following) capped off Saturday.
The other big name talent was Roomful of Blues. Coupled with the ideal weather, Sunday's crowd was the largest of any of the Sundays in years past. At that point, late on Sunday afternoon, the audiences seemed to not want to leave. That was a pleasant "first" said Taste participants.
Winners of the Taste Battle of the Bands competition were First place, Mezzo Forte, Second place, American Business Machines, and Third place, Project Mayhem. This was the first time West Side's Taste featured "The Battle" in their Program.
Other winners were all of the West Springfield non-profit agencies that will benefit from the profits of The Taste.
The largest group of winners was the community as a whole, with the Rotary Club and the Town giving the residents and neighbors a great big party.
West Side's Taste was sponsored by Westbank, along with Gold Sponsors: Bertera Cars & Trucks, AAA of Pioneer Valley, Cabot Creamery, Chicopee Savings, and Fontaine Brothers.