PARKERSBURG - An estimated 3,500 people, the largest crowd in the downtown event's nine years, attended last Saturday's Taste of Parkersburg next to the Blennerhassett Hotel.
Last year's attendance was around 2,000 people, said Carrie Nesselrode, executive director of the Downtown PKB, which is organizing the festival of food, wine and music. Previous years attendance averaged from 2,000 to 3,000 people.
"The response was fabulous," Nesselrode said Wednesday. Besides drawing people from the Mid-Ohio Valley, residents of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Virginia and throughout West Virginia attended the Taste of Parkersburg this year.
"The Taste of Parkersburg is well-known in the state," Nesselrode said.
Working to make the TOP a success were the more than 100 volunteers, the Blennerhassett Hotel, Downtown PKB, city of Parkersburg, Wood County and the Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, Nesselrode said. Adults and youth from Boy Scout Troop 16, based at Lauckport United Methodist Church, helped to clean up and remove tables and chairs after the event.
Anticipating a large crowd this year - with the beautiful weather forecast - 100 more chairs and 15 more tables were set up. The number of reserved seats increased from 120 to 216, and all were sold.
Any profits are rolled over into next year's event, said Nesselrode.
"It was nice to see younger people (25-35 years old) at the event," she said. Nesselrode noted the TOP is not meant to be a family event attended by young children - but instead a night out for adults.
A few more tables at the entrance and other locations were added this year. Four more vendor booths were added by removing the back entrance.
The Taste of Parkersburg will continue to be celebrated in the spring, the weekend after Memorial Day, after being held in September the first seven years, Nesselrode said.
Most of the vendors sold out of food, while several of the wine vendors sold all their products, she said.
TOP wants to expand its market reach next year, making it a destination event for the region, Nesselrode said.
Planning has already begun on the 10th annual Taste of Parkersburg. Look for an added feature or two - like a celebrity chef in attendance - to celebrate the 10th anniversary next year.
The Downtown PKB will look at possibly expanding the venue into Third Street, Market Street or nearby parking lots, Nesselrode said.
Seventeen food vendors participated, with other restaurants saying they want to participate next year, Nesselrode said. There were 24 wine vendors and four beer vendors this year - more than last year.
With the added popularity of the event, TOP officials need to look at the "entrance process" - getting people in quicker and easier, Nesselrode said.
Advance ticket sales were up this year. Online registration, a new feature this year, was well received and will continue, Nesselrode said.
TOP will look at adding tables for patrons to sit around next year.