Don’t miss the 16th annual Taste of Punta Gorda on Sunday, March 3, from 11 AM to 5 PM at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda. The Taste premiered in 2007 and has grown steadily to become the premier food festival in Punta Gorda, attracting as many as 5,000 attendees each year. It receives terrific support from local restaurants, businesses, and the community, and it is the Punta Gorda Rotary Club Charity and Education Foundation’s major annual fundraiser.
Publix Super Markets is proud to be the Taste’s Presenting IRON CHEF Sponsor since 2019. “In addition to Publix, we are fortunate to have several local sponsors this year,” says the Taste’s Chairman, Peter Wilkins. Other major sponsors are Ingman Marine (TOP CHEF), which will be displaying some great boats at the event, Bankers Life Insurance (EXECUTIVE CHEF), Suncoast Credit Union, SYSCO, Suncoast Beverages, and Amerilife (MASTER CHEFs). Other repeat sponsors include McCrory Law, Charlotte State Bank, Waste Management, Arthur Rutenberg Homes and Sandstar Remodeling, Gregg’s Automotive, Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty, Everything Punta Gorda, and All that Jazz.
The Taste supports local students, charitable organizations, and nonprofits in Punta Gorda and Charlotte County and wherever Rotary does good work. Proceeds of the Taste–about $50,000 per year–are distributed to local community organizations and nonprofits through the Club Foundation. Recent recipients have included the Homeless Coalition, Jesus Saves Your Ministry, St. Vincent de Paul, C.A.R.E., Susan B. Andes Clinic, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Punta Gorda Police Department’s Do-the-Right-Thing program, Goodwill of SWFL, Peace River Elementary School, Honor Flight of SWFL, Charlotte HS Project Graduation, Habitat for Humanity, TEAM Punta Gorda’s Loaner Bike program, the Punta Gorda Historical Society, the Military Heritage Museum, Valerie’s House, the Botanical Gardens, Water4Life Mozambique, Friends of Barnabas for orphanages in Honduras, St. Thomassique Medical Clinic in Haiti, and Backpack for Kidz.
Festival tickets are $7 for adults and kids 12 and up and free for kids under 12. Folks supporting Rotary’s work can purchase VIP Rotary Angel Tickets for $40. Tickets are available at the gate, and advanced sale tickets are online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taste-of-punta-gorda-and-beyond-2024-tickets-721534698707?aff=oddtdtcreator.
Peter Wilkins says, “Our event team is taking the festival to a high level this year.” For the fourth year, Publix Super Markets is the festival’s Presenting IRON CHEF Sponsor, and spokesman Chris Ittner from their Lakewood headquarters said, “we’re excited to be a part of this wonderful celebration of food in Punta Gorda, and we’ll be there with food samples and things for the kids.”
At the last Taste, 5,000 people sampled the best dishes offered by almost 30 local restaurants and food trucks. This year’s Taste is reaching out to restaurants in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte so they can have the opportunity to promote their businesses by serving “tastes” of their signature dishes. Some of the participants include Wally’s Southern Style BBQ, the Metro Diner, Amimoto Japanese Restaurant, The Tamiami Tavern, Misake Sushi, Mint Thai Cuisine, Brother’s Fish House, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Koi Asian Bistro, Flavors of India, El Peruanito Food Truck, Plaza Mexico, Dean’s South of the Border, Ana’s Empanadas, the Coronation [Jamaican] Take Out, 3 Pepper Burrito, UnWined, and Sughar Rays Caribbean.
Be sure to bring ones and five’s to purchase restaurant “tastes”. An ATM will be on site!
The restaurants will offer various cuisines, from the Caribbean to sushi to Indian to BBQ and soul food. This year’s restaurants will be judged by foodies who know their stuff. Paste first place winners returning include Tamiami Tavern and Sughar Rays Caribbean.
In addition to great food, attendees over 60 vendors of all types will sell arts and crafts, ice cream and other desserts, lemonade, specialty ice drinks, beer, wine, and more. Among several local nonprofits displaying and talking about their services to our community will be Octagon Wildlife Refuge, the Peace River Wildlife Center, the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, Southwest Honor Flights, and TEAM Punta Gorda.
While their parents are relishing restaurants and vendors, kids of all ages can enjoy the Kids Fun Zone, which features bounce houses, rock climbing, stealth laser tag, and other interactive activities. The Punta Gorda Police Department’s Community Trailer will be present as well.
New this year, the Taste will feature three great Southwest Florida bands. Deb and the Dynamics will kick off the day, followed by the Marker 5 Band, and the one and only Boogie Men will entertain everyone through the afternoon. So, bring your camp chair with you.
What: The Taste of Punta Gorda and Beyond
Where: Laishley Park, Nesbit Street, Punta Gorda
When: Sunday, March 3, from 11 AM to 5 PM
What to Bring: Dollar bills for restaurants and camp chairs to enjoy the music.