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Taste Fest takes on new look, worthy cause

This year’s 24th Annual United Way Taste Fest will feature a brand new venue and a dearly familiar cause. Set for Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the Cloquet Country Club, the event will run from 4-7 p.m., with ticket sales ending at 6:30 p.m.

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“This will be the first time we will be holding Taste Fest at the Country Club,” explained Ali Bilden Camps, executive director of the Carlton County United Way. “We decided it was time to change things up a little, and we wanted it to be more of an intimate evening with cocktails. We’re hoping for nice weather so people can feel free to stroll the grounds as well.”

Proceeds from this year’s Taste Fest will once again support the Backpack Feeding Program, administered through Second Harvest Food Bank as part of the Feeding America Program.

“Last year we raised approximately $4,800 to help get the Backpack Program off the ground in the Cloquet schools,” said Bilden Camps. “This year, we hope to raise enough to help spread the program throughout Carlton County.”

The Backpack Program provides enough shelf-safe food to feed a child for a weekend, including such things as cereal, canned milk, lunch-type foods, and occasionally fresh produce. It’s distributed confidentially in backpacks every Friday afternoon before the children go home for the weekend. Parents of targeted students, who might not have enough food to eat over the weekend, are given forms to fill out, allowing their child to participate.     

“It’s obvious that there is a definite need in our county,” said Bilden Camps. “So many people have supported it, and so many people are passionate about it.”

At next Wednesday night’s Taste Fest, guests will be invited to sample a wide variety of food and drink features from area restaurants and other vendors for a single charge of $15 for adults, or $5 for kids, at the door. Last year, 19 area vendors participated, and Bilden Camps said an impressive lineup is once again on tap for this year.

The event will also feature a silent auction with items donated by area merchants and individuals, as well as a raffle to have your car washed by a crew of “celebrity” car washers, including Father Justin Fish of Queen of Peace Catholic Church, incoming Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek, Pine Journal Editor Jana Peterson, and Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program Principal Steve Battaglia.

Bilden Camps voiced appreciation for the support of all of the volunteers and sponsors who support the Taste Fest event, as well as the Backpack Program, and thanked the Cloquet Country Club, which will donate a portion of the proceeds from that day’s golf to the United Way and waive the requirement to be a member to play that same day as well.