OLEAN — Ready to see what the best in Olean’s food and art scenes have to offer?
The 29th annual Taste of Olean and 70th annual Art in the Park events, which will combine 12 area restaurant and beverage vendors with a dozen artists, will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at War Vets Park. Food vendors will set up near the parking lot area, while artists will showcase their work along the new walking trail through the park.
“It’s worked out nice,” being at War Vets Park, said Meme Yanetsko, chief operating officer for the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce, which co-hosts the event with the Tri-County Arts Council. And with partly sunny skies and a high in the low 80s predicted, “the weather gods appear to be smiling on us.”
The walking patch constructed in 2018 has been a great addition, she said, with the path combined with the other sidewalks and parking lot creating a natural traffic pattern for the thousands of visitors expected this year.
“That’s really ideal because nobody wants to be stuck in the corner and it lends a nice flow to it,” she said.
From 1991 to 1997, the event was held at Lincoln Park. From 1998 to 2002, North Union Street hosted the festivities. Jamestown Community College was the home of the festival for 13 years before it moved to War Vets Park in 2016.
Twelve food vendors will appear this year, including Mirchi Bar n’ Grill, Cupcaked, JCC Alumni, Hammerback Bar & Grill / GTO Foods, The Hungry Burro, Tandoori Taste of India, Sanzo Beverage, AnnMarie’s Baklava, Napoli Pizza, Baby Ds Diner, Bub’s Grub, and Certo Brothers Distributing.
New food vendors this year include El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant, The Hungry Burro food truck of Olean and Bub’s Grub, a barbecue trailer also based in Olean.
Like the arts, Olean’s strength of cuisine lies in variety.
“It’s unique because Olean has always been known as a great taste, now it’s probably known for the variety,” she said, with restaurants ranging from classic American regional cuisine to international flavors like Italian, Mexican, Indian and Chinese.
A dozen local artists will also exhibit, including Judy Speckman – painting, Everett Kline – wood, Deveon Spaeth — jewelry/sculpture, Greg Souchik — jewelry/painting, Eileen Weishan — fiber arts, Michael Weishan – photography, Miranda Turner – painting, Sharon Bushnell — fiber arts, Nicolaus Scolton — drawing/pastels, Kaylee Hollister – jewelry, Pauline Hoffman — Wild Mountain Organics — body care and Sandy Pickert – painting.
Other organizations will also be on hand including Southern Tier Symphony, Girls Scouts of Western New York, S.P.C.A. of Cattaraugus County, and Neighborhood School of Dance. Three awards will be presented: Best of Show, Best New Entry and Best Presentation.
BUT IT’S NOT just food and art at the show. Various musical and dance groups will perform during the event. Performances include:
- OHS STAR Program “Frozen Jr.”, noon.
- Bent Brass Ensemble, 12:30 p.m.
- Olean Area Irish Dancers, 1:15 p.m.
- Brass Knuckle Quintet, 1:45 p.m.
- Best Chef, 2:15 p.m.
- Olean Theatre Workshop, musical numbers from “Once On This Island,” 2:30 p.m.
- Neighborhood School of Dance, 3:15 p.m.
- OTW performance class, 3:45 p.m.
- Dance Arts, 4:30 p.m.
Family-friendly activities will be available during the event.
Eric Jones will be on site with his caricature drawings, while face painting and balloons will also be available. A new addition will be free swimming and roller skating at the William O. Smith Recreation Center from noon to 5 p.m. thanks to the Chamber’s corporate sponsors. WT Hair will also be running an activity center including hair braiding, glitter hair styles, flower crowns, and cotton candy.
Officials are already looking forward to the 30th Taste of Olean. Yanetsko said she hopes to bring back many of the “founding fathers” of the event, including the Rafi family, the Old Library and maybe Beef n’ Barrel.
“It’s hard managing a restaurant, and if it’s your only day off, to get staff in,” Yanetsko said, adding staffing is a common problem for exhibitors who need to man a booth for six hours, and many restaurants come and go over the years as they are able to attend.
For more information, visit www.oleanny.org.