The eighth annual Taste of Turlock celebration drew thousands of people to Downtown Turlock on Saturday.
Visitors sampled local restaurants' fare, shopped in downtown boutiques, and enjoyed the good weather at the annual festival.
“I think it was better than last year,” said Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association coordinator Dana McGarry, who planned the event.
Last year, Taste of Turlock drew about 650 guests. McGarry estimated this year's crowd as “a couple thousand people.”
This year's celebration spanned fewer blocks than a year ago, concentrating the crowd in a smaller area. And though some early guests might have been greeted by an empty festival, the crowd's size surged as the day went on.
“By the time the event ended, some restaurants were out of food,” McGarry said, noting the Dust Bowl Brewing Company ran out of beer an hour before the event's conclusion.
McGarry credited the good weather, in part, for the attendance – last year, temperatures were above 95 degrees for a sweltering Taste of Turlock.
Though attendance numbers were up, they're still far down from Taste of Turlock's heyday, when the event regularly drew 4,000 guests to Downtown Turlock. At that time, the event was a cultural heritage celebration; in 2012, the event switched gears to become a “food feastival.”
Food was on offer from many local restaurants, but a newcomer to the Turlock dining scene – Ann's Fish and Chips – routinely had the longest lines. The new restaurant is set to open on Main Street in the former home of Frost Bakery, formerly home to Mainly Bagels.
Families enjoyed the new kids' zone, which featured exotic animals and local children's authors.
And, importantly for the Downtown Property Owners Association, downtown stores were packed with shoppers.
“The whole point of the event is just to bring the community downtown,” McGarry said. “When we have an event, even just a couple of thousand people, it's an economic boost for restaurants and merchants.”
McGarry said that, following the success of this year's event, she expects Taste of Turlock to return for a ninth year in 2014.
“People were smiling, laughing, they were eating,” McGarry said. “I just didn't hear any complaints.”