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.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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