Altrusa’s annual Taste of Fort Smith has been serving up some of the area’s best dishes and helping raise funds for local non-profits for a quarter century. This year’s “Taste” will mark the event’s silver anniversary and organizers are hoping to make it the group’s best one yet.
The 2012 Taste of Fort Smith will be held on Tuesday, (Oct. 30) at the Phoenix Expo Center. Guests can attend either the lunch session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or the dinner session, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m.
This year’s event will feature food and drink from nearly 50 area restaurants and vendors. Restaurants, bakeries, wineries and beverage companies will showcase some of what they consider their best offerings for Taste-goers. With a ticket, guests can sample as many of the dishes and beverages as they please during either session.
Several old favorites will be on-hand once again to celebrate Taste's 25th year. This year's line-up will also present several new faces including Bob Evan’s, River City Deli, Sake, and The Egg and I.
Part of Taste’s success over the years can be attributed to the commitment of its loyal volunteers and Altrusa members, according to Altrusa leaders. Two lead organizers, Luanne Weir, co-chair, and Marilyn Maxey, have been a part of Taste since in its inception in 1987. The two, along with the other 23 club members, work to plan and organize the event each year.
Founded in 1917, Altrusa is an international organization "that centers around civic-minded individuals who want to create better communities." Although Altrusa helps with issues including disaster relief and HIV/AIDS prevention, the organization’s central focus is literacy.
All proceeds from “Taste” will benefit seven area non-profit organizations. Recipients include: CASA of Crawford County, Community Rescue Mission, Community Services Clearinghouse, Crawford County Volunteers for Literacy, Fort Smith Public Library, Literacy Council of Western Arkansas and Project Compassion.
"Last year, Altrusa was able to distribute $23,000 to Taste's benefitting agencies," said Barbara Oswald, event co-chair. "This year our goal is $25,000."
Over the last 25 years, Taste has given away more than $300,000 to help the community.
Taste of Fort Smith is considered a win for all involved. Diners get the opportunity to sample food and beverages throughout the region, all while helping raise money for deserving organizations. Oswald noted that the vendors and restaurants enjoy being a part of it because it gives them "great exposure" and because they also get to help support great causes.
In honor of its 25th year, Altrusa compiled some of the event’s most popular recipes for a “Silver Anniversary Cookbook.” The book will feature “Taste” favorites, as well as dishes from the kitchens of Altrusa's own members.
"Each of us (members) submitted anywhere from 15 to 25 recipes a piece," said Oswald. "The book includes in excess of 300 recipes overall."
The books will be available to purchase for only $10.
Tickets for the event may be purchased at any Simmons First National Bank branch or at the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce office downtown. Advanced tickets are $12 and are good for either session. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $15. For more information, call 629-8852.