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Taste of Portage offers food, drink and more

August 21, 2018

There’s much more to the Taste of Portage than food.

Here are some questions and answers about one of Portage’s premier end-of-summer traditions.

How many Tastes

of Portage have

there been?

This year’s event marks 27 years for the event, which includes selected food offerings from many local restaurants, stores and organizations, as well as a craft show, car show, petting zoo, camel rides, numerous other children’s activities, live music and sidewalk sales in downtown Portage.

“It’s about getting people out into the community, to see what Portage has to offer,” said Marianne Hanson, executive director of the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce.

What’s new?

Of the 11 food vendors expected at the event, three of them are new, as are many of the food offerings.

Wilz Hometown Pharmacy is offering protein smoothies of the type sold in the store, just across the street from Market Square.

Supporters of Portage’s Historic Indian Agency House are first-time participants, and their offerings are new, too — two kinds of cake pops (marshmallow or Oreo), dill pickles on a stick and iced coffee slushies.

Johnny B’s at Saddle Ridge specializes in barbecue, and that’s reflected in their Taste of Portage offerings. Hanson said the folks at Johnny B’s plan to bring their smoker for fresh meat preparation for their brisket and pulled pork sliders and two-bone ribs, as well as jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon.

How can I find out all there is to eat?

Sandwich boards throughout Market Square during the event will list the vendors and what foods are available. But if you want to plan your meals in advance, the full menu — with no single food or beverage offering costing more than $4 — can be found at portagedailyregister.com.

Will there be adult beverages?

Yes, but only beer, and only in the beer tent at Market Square.

Is this event appropriate for people of all ages?

Most definitely. Several activities are geared just for youngsters, including the petting zoo and camel rides at Cook and DeWitt streets, which are back by popular demand, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Hanson noted that the St. John’s Child Development Center will have crafts and face-painting from 11 a,m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, which is also when there will be a balloon artist and magician and inflatable bouncy house, all near Market Square on East Cook Street. At 1 p.m., there will be a kiddie tractor pull.

What about activities for grown-ups?

There’s a car show along Cook Street, featuring restored vintage vehicles. The $10 per vehicle paid by exhibitors benefits middle school and high school archery programs in Portage. The show will start at 10 a.m. Saturday and run until 3 p.m., when awards will be handed out.

The craft show is back, too, on DeWitt Street, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

And, throughout downtown Portage, several merchants plan sidewalk sales starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.

What are the live music acts this year?

The following musicians will offer free performances:

Best Practice, 6 p.m. Friday, Market Square.Copper Box, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Market Square.Me and My Fat Uncle, 2:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Market Square.Dixie Sizzlers, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Cook and DeWitt streets.

Will some roads be closed to traffic?

Yes. Cook Street (Highway 33) through downtown Portage will be closed Saturday, as will portions of DeWitt Street.

What if it rains?

The event goes on. (It rained briefly last year.) Hanson said there are tents set up for diners and vendors alike.

The National Weather Service forecast for Friday evening calls for a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, but Saturday’s forecast looks promising: Mostly sunny, with a high near 84.

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