OLEAN — Hopefully the Taste of Olean won’t be bittersweet in 2021.
The Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that the 30th annual exhibition will be pushed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of available restaurants, canceling the July 26 date set for this year.
“Initially many exciting things had been planned for the 30th celebration,” said Chamber COO Meme Yanetsko, “bringing back some dishes from the first few years of Taste — from the Castle, the L’Alcove, Café Marquis, etc.; revisit the wall of fame and talk to past winners; unveiling of a commemorative logo.
“Despite this devastating news, while we miss bringing the community together to enjoy the tastes, the arts and the sounds, GOACC’s top priority remains in the health and safety of our guests, vendors, volunteers and all involved who help make the Taste of Olean our community’s favorite food event,” she added.
Chamber officials reached out to more than 60 restaurants, many of whom could not spare the staff for the event — a common problem for some participants annually — or were concerned about the pandemic.
“Thirty percent of the restaurants said no, more than half couldn’t be reached — so we took that as a no — and we had six restaurants say yes,” said Lisa Carpenter, GOACC administrative assistant.
Yanetsko noted that many of the restaurants have spent the past three months either closed or seen service opportunities severely curtailed due to pandemic restrictions. With Phase 3 starting two weeks ago — allowing for indoor dining for the first time since March — many restaurants are not back to full staff or full menus yet.
The Chamber and city staff had already worked on spreading out electrical service throughout the park, giving each booth more space to allow for social distancing.
“Think of the Taste as marinating so the foods taste even better when we all ‘eat’ up together in 2021,” Carpenter said.
The announcement, Chamber officials said, came a week after the Tri-County Arts Council official canceled the partner Art in the Park set for 2020.
The 2021 event has been scheduled for Sunday, July 25, 2021, at War Vets Park. For more information, call 372-4433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.