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Fri, July 03

Taste of Williams set for Sept. 29
Popular event held at Bearizona Wildlife Park to feature restaurants, music, art and more

The walk-through portion of Bearizona sparkles with light during last year’s Taste of Williams event. Photo/Jan Shirley

The walk-through portion of Bearizona sparkles with light during last year’s Taste of Williams event. Photo/Jan Shirley

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Come celebrate the Taste of Williams for the fifth consecutive year on Sept. 29 at northern Arizona's only drive through wildlife park, Bearizona, from 5-8 p.m. This, still somewhat new, annual tradition for the city of Williams features local businesses, restaurants, wineries, microbreweries, and artists.

The event itself will be held in the popular walk through area of the park where baby animals like bears, javelinas, raccoons, wolves, ferrets, and lynx can be viewed. Patrons will be able to enjoy tastes from regional wineries and microbreweries, great food samplings from some of Williams' top restaurants, and a variety of art for viewing or purchase from local artists.

"It is a food, wine, and art extravaganza," said Gioia Goodrum, president and CEO of the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce. "It has really grown into our signature event, I think in many ways, for the chamber. We bring a lot of our businesses, we get wineries from Arizona, and we have many of our local artists come to sell and showcase their art."

Sierra Miller, Taste of Williams committee chair, talked about what's new to this year's festival. Flagstaff favorites Muskellunge Bluegrass will be performing, a raffle and live auction will be held, and new businesses have joined in addition to traditional restaurants.

"This is the first year we're adding five bed and breakfasts, they're having their own area where they can offer their breads and other food as well as other products or services they provide," said Miller. "It's a showcase of Williams, to let people outside of town know what Williams has to offer."

The Food Bank is also involved in this year's festivities with support from the Taste of Williams committee and Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce. If event-goers bring two cans of food or a donation for the Food Bank they will receive a raffle ticket to a basket that will be raffled off. Included in this basket will be donations from local businesses, gift certificates to restaurants and wineries that might not be able to attend, and much more.

More than 11 restaurants, five wineries, and three artists have already signed up and reserved space. The Taste of Williams committee is accepting applications until Sept. 4 for restaurants, artists, wineries or breweries that would still like to join. They are also still accepting donations.

The Taste of Williams usually attracts approximately 400 people each year and includes many local restaurants, artists and entertainers, which showcase the many talents and diversities of this Route 66 community. Regional wineries include Oak Creek Vineyards, Alcantara, Kind Vines and Pillsbury Wine Company as well as Williams' own microbrewery, Grand Canyon Brewing Co.

"A portion of the money goes to an emergency fund for the teachers, we do scholarships, and we have the Food Bank," Miller said. "So the money goes back into the town. Anything that we make off this, the chamber gives back to the town in one form or another."

Tickets are $35 each, which includes entry to the festival itself and the walk through area of Bearizona, five wine tasting tickets, and a Taste of Williams glass. Patrons can listen to music, enjoy the food and drinks, and take pleasure in the wonderment of all the bright lights and beautiful sights that is the Taste of Williams.

"Last year was magical, it was beautiful," Goodrum said.

"You expect a unicorn to come through the trees," added Miller. "It's a forest after all and the fort itself is all lit up at night with the white lights, plus with all the trees around. It's a fun time, everyone enjoys it, and for us it's a big event."

For more information contact Alicia Raecke at the chamber at (928) 635-0273. Applications can be faxed to (928) 635-1417. Tickets can be purchased in person from a Taste of Williams committee member or online at www.experiencewilliams.com.

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