Written by Tyisha Blade
In its third year, Taste of Summer is an event presented by Cleveland Scene and Flats East Bank where locals and visitors can go to check out downtown Cleveland for Memorial Day Weekend. An unofficial kickoff to summer, it is the perfect opportunity for people to get outside and enjoy downtown. The annual event features food, local music, craft cocktails, beer, and plenty of activities for all ages. Taste of Summer benefits Working Animals Giving Service (W.A.G.S) 4 Kids, a non-profit organization that provides therapy animals for kids who have a special need.Located in the Flats East Bank, this is a three-day party for the city of Cleveland, that was held from May 24-May 26. “We wanted an event that got people down to the flats for Memorial Day Weekend,” said Andrew Zelman, publisher of Cleveland Scene Magazine. “We decided to partner with Flats East Bank to get people downtown, experience the boardwalk, hang out on the river and try all the different things the flats has to offer.” This event is free admittance and can be incorporated with things to do during social gatherings such as sporting events, weddings and other events in Cleveland.
Music included Aftermath, Experience the Sixties, Michelle Romary, Jul Big Green, Dj Flaco and more. “We try to include a variety of genres for our bands,” Zelman said. Soft listening music is generally played during the day for a family-friendly feeling. As the night is wrapped up, more energetic music is played. “This year, for example we have some jazz and light rock earlier in the day,” Zelman said. “Then, as the day goes on, the are some local cover acts that play, and we do have dj’s each night to round up the night.”
A variety of food trucks and Flats East Bank restaurants also participate. Slyman's, Chapati, Punch Bowl Social, and Dante’s Inferno are just a few participants for amazing food options. Craft cocktails and beer options are also available for 21 and up crowd. “Something cool about that is you can take your cocktail and walk up and down the boardwalk,” Zelman said. “That is not something that you would normally be able to do.”
For Delisha Fisher, server at Dante’s Inferno, this year marks her second year working the event. The year prior, she worked at Punch Bowl Social and enjoyed every interaction. “In my second year of the event, I really enjoyed the extra money,” Fisher said.
Volunteers are welcomed for the event as well. There are different areas for volunteering such as bartending, beer pouring, and ticket sales. Activities include giant Jenga, giant Connect Four Cornhole, face painting and balloon makers and much more. Vendors included Wood Thingamajigs, where owner Jason Brown creates custom wooden products; and Off the Wall, owned by Matt Sadler creating art and custom framing.
Ashley Torres, Kent State University graduate student, attended the event for the first time and was astonished at the atmosphere on the water. “I really liked the patio setting at Dante’s Inferno; the fire pits added a really nice touch, Torres said. “I would definitely attend next year.” This event attracts locals and visitors and continues to grow in Cleveland popularity.
According to Zelman, his favorite memory of the event was the year of the Cavaliers championship. The team dined in the flats at Alley Cat Oyster Bar during the Taste of Summer event. Afterwards, the whole team walked through the event which also generating a huge crowd.
Clevelanders are devoted to having a good time and hanging out on the boardwalk. Taste of summer is another reason to do so! Cleveland Scene Magazine’s 50th anniversary is next year, and, according to Zelman celebration ideas are still being worked out. Be on the lookout for this and other upcoming events at https://www.clevescene.com/