That’s really what it’s all about for the vendors set to showcase their food this weekend at A Taste of Villa Rica.
“We always enjoy the exposure that comes from events like this,” said Scott Mashburn, owner of Johnny’s Pizza in Villa Rica. “And when the proceeds go to such an important cause, it’s really a win-win.”
All proceeds from this year’s event will go to support the programs of The Lions Club.
Sponsored by The Lions Club of Villa Rica and the Villa Rica Golden City Lions Club, presenting sponsors and Villa Rica Parks and Recreation, Taste will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Roughly 20 vendors are scheduled to participate.
Tickets will be sold in $1 increments, with each tasting item costing a certain number of tickets. Entrance to the event is free to the public.
Blake Pittman, a manager at Gabe’s Downtown, said the event is “all about exposure.”
“That’s certainly a big draw for us,” Pittman said. “For people who haven’t heard about us before, we love to be a part of the community and show them what we have to offer.”
Being a “part of the community,” as the manager of the Louisiana bistro says, is important to these restaurant owners because they know that community members are customers.
“We try to do everything for our locals,” said Gary Duke, owner of The Limp Briskets, a catering company specializing in competition-style barbecue. “We’re from Villa Rica, and we want to show our appreciation to the folks from our town.”
The business partner of the owner and founder of the Olive Tree Restaurant said he loves to give service to those who support his business.
“Restaurant businesses always need exposure,” Tash Tasova said. “Things can get so competitive, even in a small town like ours. It’s important to get your name and your food out there.”
Young, upstart businesses, unlike the Olive Tree, also crave the exposure events like Taste can bring them. Niki Kaiser, the owner of Southern Belle’s Bakery Boutique, a home-based bakery that opened in 2011, said she’s trying to find more clients in the Villa Rica area, near where she lives.
“I’m local, I live out toward Villa Rica, and I’d love for some of my customers to come from there,” Kaiser said. “Right now, I’m just trying to get my name and my bakery out there. There’s a lot of competition, so every bit of exposure helps a ton.”
Beyond exposure and doing it for a good cause, however, some restaurants just want to share what they love — their food.
“We try to take every opportunity to get on the square and meet with our locals,” Pittman of Gabe’s Downtown said. “We’re passionate about the food we serve, and we want to show our community members that passion.”
The event was held in 2010, but not in 2011. In 2010, proceeds from the event went to Villa Rica’s Rapha Clinic and Villa Rica Downtown Development Authority. Those sponsors, event director Rhonda Case said, chose not to hold the event last year.
“The Lions Club is hoping to make this an annual event here on out,” Case said. “We’ve been really blessed with the ton of sponsors we’ve received.”
Awards will be given for the vendor booth that is decorated the best, Case said, with a “Mayor’s Cup” going to the vendor that receives the most tickets.
Beyond the food vendors, the event will also have entertainment on the amphitheater stage, an arts and crafts marketplace and a “children’s corner” sponsored by a local church.
The marketplace will include completely original works by local artists and craftsmen.
The children’s corner, hosted by Peachtree Church, will give parents a chance to drop their kids of in a safe, fun environment while they enjoy the event. Admission for the children to take full advantage of the corner is three tickets, or $3.
The event is rain or shine, Case said.
“This is a gathering of top Villa Rica restaurants and caterers in historic downtown Villa Rica,” Case said. “It will be a family-fun event with good food and great entertainment that will provide a wonderful opportunity for local eateries, artisans, farmers and sponsors to promote their businesses in our community, while supporting a wonderful cause. This is an event you will not want to miss.”
A full list of restaurants and food vendors scheduled to participate:
• Iron Horse BBQ
• Los Cowboys
• Cinema Tavern
• Southern Belle’s Bakery
• La Fiesta
• Johnny’s Pizza
• Izzy Bakes Cakes
• Evan’s Barbeque Company
• The Limp Briskets
• Gabe’s Downtown
• Papa John’s Pizza
• GC Feathers Wings and Things
• Trading Post Cafe
• The Olive Tree
• Chillers Frozen Yogurt