Almost 900 taste what Blaine area has to offer

Although the eighth annual Taste of Blaine at the National Sports Center Feb. 21  did not draw in as many people as it did last year, event organizers and restaurants were very happy with the new venue and how the event turned out.

Edible Arrangements of Blaine offered fruit at the Taste of Blaine. Pictured here are Mary Jane Kunza of Coon Rapids (left) and Laurie Vork (right). Photo by Eric Hagen
Edible Arrangements of Blaine offered fruit at the Taste of Blaine. Pictured here are Mary Jane Kunza of Coon Rapids (left) and Laurie Vork (right). Photo by Eric Hagen

Free2B!, an nonprofit organization, has put on the Taste of Blaine for the past eight years to raise funds for its efforts to fix or provide vehicles to working folks in Anoka County going through tough economic times.

Some people have donated vehicles to Free2B! while various vehicle repair businesses offer their garages on a rotating basis.

According to Valerie Nielsen, client and car services coordinator for Free2B!, the eighth annual Taste of Blaine netted $26,903.76 and 863 tickets were sold.

Last year’s event netted approximately $30,000 and 944 tickets were sold.

Nielsen said besides fewer tickets being sold, the Schwan’s Expo Center was more expensive to rent than the Schwan’s Event Center and there was less sponsorship support, but Free2B! and restaurant vendors they talked with were very happy with how the event turned out.

When the Taste of Blaine was at the Schwan’s Event Center in prior years, restaurant booths were on two separate floors and in a few different rooms. Barclay Kruse, media director for the National Sports Center, said the space was awkward because you would have to know there were more restaurant tables on the second floor.

The Schwan’s Expo Center is a great space for the Taste of Blaine because it allowed everyone to be in one massive room, Kruse said.

“Everyone was really happy to be on one floor,” Nielsen said,

The foot traffic flowed much better from the time people checked in until they left, she said.

There were 32 restaurants at the Taste of Blaine offering a wide selection of food from sandwiches, soup, fruit, wings, cake and much more.

During the event, the Mueller family of Spring Lake Park received a donated 2000 Nissan Altima.

Evonne Herman of Coon Rapids tries some dessert from the Spectacular Events Catering company out of Isanti. Photos by Eric Hagen Kathy Ramsey of Ham Lake grabs a corn beef slider from the J.J. Murphy Irish Pub’s table. This business is located in Blaine. Molly Moskalik of Ham Lake gets a piece of cake for herself and a friend from Nancy Peters at the Costco table. This business is located in Coon Rapids. Janet Spiralke from Dixie Blue BBQ in Blaine loads up a mini pork sandwich. Wendy Dorholt and Debbie Stodolka of Coon Rapids and many others enjoyed good food and conversation at the eighth annual Taste of Blaine Feb. 21 at the National Sports Center. The event was held in the new Schwan’s Expo Center for the first time. Edible Arrangements of Blaine offered fruit at the Taste of Blaine. Pictured here are Mary Jane Kunza of Coon Rapids (left) and Laurie Vork (right). During the Feb. 21 Taste of Blaine event, Free2B! gave a donated 2000 Nissan Altima to the Mueller family of Spring Lake Park. Pictured here are Jeff, Katrina and their 14-month-old son Aeden.
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Wendy Dorholt and Debbie Stodolka of Coon Rapids and many others enjoyed good food and conversation at the eighth annual Taste of Blaine Feb. 21 at the National Sports Center. The event was held in the new Schwan’s Expo Center for the first time.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]