The Taste of Durango returns Sunday. The fiesta is both the city’s largest food celebration and, to many, the event that kicks off Durango’s summer festival season.
While many features of Taste will remain the same, a number of changes will set this year’s event apart from those of years past.
“The format’s going to be a bit different this time around,” said Dave Woodruff, president of the Durango chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, which organizes the event. “Instead of having restaurants do cocktails, we’re actually having producers partner up with some restaurants and bartenders and do a collaborative cocktail.”
The goal is to make the event a bit less rowdy than it has been in recent history.
“We got a little bit of pushback from the city and from the police department that it’s getting to be a little too wild downtown after the Taste of Durango on a Sunday,” Woodruff said.
“It kind of went away from our ethos of being a family-friendly event when it got to be that way,” he said, “so we decided to reel it back a little bit this year so we’ll be able to still have food producers and ... two bartenders from other restaurants in town doing two different cocktails, one per restaurant, so that we’d still have cocktails but not nearly as much.”
This wont affect the amount of beer on tap, though.
“We’ll still have the same amount of breweries that go up, the staples,” he said.
The Taste of Durango is one of the city’s largest events, said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Business Improvement District. It probably brings 10,000 to 12,000 people downtown, he said.
“We have amazing restaurants here, for a little town,” he said.
“You get to try everything, from places you love to places that maybe you haven’t been,” he said. “A lot of the restaurants will bring something fancy or something new that they want people to try out, and so it’s just a wonderful time.”
The event is good for Durango’s downtown district, Walsworth said.
“When people come downtown, if they take a second to look around at the stores, that’s a good opportunity to get people to take a break from the event and go in the stores or just remind them of what’s down here.”
Shorter lines?Another bit of feedback the restaurant association received last year concerned the long lines at both the food establishments and the ticket booths.
“We’ve really been making a push this year for more vendors – so more restaurants and more people purveying food,” Woodruff said. The logic is that one way to spread out the lines is to have more vendors.
As for the ticket lines, organizers hope some attendees will purchase them in advance.
“We’re doing a will-call this year, so you can purchase your tickets online at tasteofdurango.com,” he said. “Then, you’ll meet at the will-call booth, pick up those tickets and away you go.”
Woodruff also said that the ticket booths, which will be marked by big, red balloons, will be staffed by more volunteers to make them more expedient.
The entertainmentThe music and entertainment will be set up the same as last year, Woodruff said, with different bands at each intersection.
“When you space it out like that, you can really provide a lot more diversity and you spread out the people.”
The Taste will feature a kids’ area, and emergency services, such as the La Plata County Sherrif’s Office and Durango Fire Protection District, will have interactive and educational booths.
Don’t driveThe fact that Taste of Durango is on a Sunday minimizes the effect that closing down a large chunk of Main Avenue would create, Walsworth said.
But it’s still a large event and the normal places people park downtown will not be available. Walsworth encourages attendees to walk, ride a bike or take public transit.