Sarah Van Buskirk
The 23rd annual Taste of La Verne took off in the Coastal Helicopter hangar at the Bracket Airport on Oct. 18 as food and drink businesses from San Dimas to Claremont celebrated a night of supporting the local community.
“It’s important to focus on our businesses in the city and have people come test out their food and their personalities,” Mayor Tim Hepburn said. “It’s probably the most important thing we do and it wouldn’t happen without the Chamber of Commerce.”
Over 100 guests received a plate and wine glass at the entrance then ventured through the rows of booths and tried food, wine and beer. They voted on which business deserved Best Taste, Best Pour and Best Show by the end of the night.
Cafe X2O, located in La Verne and Claremont, won Best Taste as they had mini gyros with the option of beef or chicken with pickled vegetables and hummus.
Third Street Wine Shop located in Old Town La Verne won Best Pour as they offered three different variants of red and white wines as well as a champagne.
Mary Forgey, owner of the wine shop for 12 years said the Taste of La Verne builds community spirit and rapport.
“Everyone here is in a positive frame of mind and with so much negative in the world that’s kind of nice to see right now,” Forgey said. “I don’t know if it’s the event or the wine that allows people to enjoy themselves but they are not cranky and mad and they are up and happy to be here.”
Vincenzo Terrazza Ristorante, located in San Dimas, won Best Show as their booth was decorated festively with autumn leaves, pumpkins, and scarecrows.
Over 20 tables spread across the outside of the hangar where guests mingled, networked and grooved along to DJ M4RC3L0’s 80s and 90s hits.
Husband and wife, James and Romi DeWitt attended the Taste of La Verne for the first time and said the event helps put businesses’ names out there and make people aware they are there.
“It’s good to sample food like this because we always try the same stuff near our house and it’s good to expand on different types of restaurants,” James DeWitt said. “This place was also well organized and there were enough places to sit.”
The DeWitt’s compared the Taste of La Verne to San Dimas’ similar event and said how much they enjoyed La Verne’s more.
“We went to the San Dimas event like this last year and it was nothing like this, we didn’t really like it,” Romi DeWitt said. “And they didn’t charge you, San Dimas charged you. Not only did we pay for entry, we paid for food. And here they were not shy on the drink service”
Many businesses donated gift baskets where guests could bid to win getaway vacations, a ride along with La Verne Police Department or a basket filled with treats and drinks.
A live auction bargained a chance to win a 25 minute dinner with Hepburn where local Cliff Wallman won after his highest bid of $350.
Helicopter rides were offered to guests to pay for a scenic trip around La Verne.
Thomas Tredennick, owner of La Verne Brewing Co. since 2017, said how the Taste of La Verne keeps a symbiotic relationship between restaurants and their beer and wine distributors.
“We are tucked away behind Bracket so a lot of people who have lived in town their whole lives did not know we existed so it’s good for exposure,” Tredennick said. “And we sell our beer to most of these restaurants so we support these restaurants and send people over their way.”
Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.