Amid declining attendance, American Cancer Society’s “Taste For Life” food and wine event that has been traditionally held in Clarksville will be changing its location to the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore and becoming more food-centric this year.
For 12 years, the event, which usually attracts 400 to 600 guests and donates all proceeds to the ACS, was held at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville. But this year, organizers decided to revamp the event’s focus and location.
“It was a much-needed change; it needed to be more metropolitan to be more successful,” said Jim Oremland, the chairman of the event. “It had run its course here.”
Oremland also said that despite the renewed focus on food, the event is still about wine, too.
“Although it will be food-centric, it will still have a major wine-tasting component,” Oremland said.
Beth Gardolino, area executive director for the American Cancer Society, said the reason for the change was that food was becoming a trendier subject for culinary events.
“Wine is everywhere, and wine festivals are everywhere, and foodies are becoming more of the trend,” Gardolino said. “Food Network has events that people can go to and people love to see the cooking demonstrations. There are incredible restaurants between Baltimore and Howard County, and this will help to grow the audience.”
This year the event will feature local, renowned chefs representing their restaurants who will provide hors d’oeuvres for attendees to try, cooking demonstrations and wine pairings. Specialty vendors will offer samples of olive oils and chocolates for tasting and buying, and the wines will come from all over the world.
“We really wanted to broaden the base, and we came upon the Lyric, and it was just perfect,” Gardolino said.
While Gardolino said that no one has gotten out of hand at the Taste for Life event before, some have been speculating about whether people have been drinking too much at wine festivals and events.
Local blogger Tom Coale wrote that at this year’s Wine in the Woods festival at , he saw multiple people acting drunk.
“Late in the afternoon, my brother and I watched an unfortunate young woman spend about three minutes trying to get up off her blanket before a friend came to help,” he wrote on HoCo Rising.
But despite concerns about decorum, Gardolino insisted that that behavior did not occur at Taste for Life.
“People don’t come to get drunk at this,” she said, “It’s not an event for that and we’ve never had a problem with that. These are expensive wines.
“We wanted to try new things and new foods—that’s why we’re revamping this event. Attendance was declining and we wanted to add some new aspects.”