South Ogden hosts first annual free tasting event

South Ogden City is inviting the community to “Taste the Local Love” tonight at the John M. Browning Armory at 625 E. 5300 S., 5-9 p.m. About 20 local restaurants will set up booths inside the armory and give out free samples.

This is the first in what is anticipated to become an annual event. The event will mostly have free sample-size desserts, because this was initially the focus of the event. The event later expanded and will also include a variety of foods and beverages, including sandwiches, soups and coffee drinks.

“Of course, a lot of people don’t have food at their locations, so we’re doing a giveaway bag,”  said Jill McCullough, the main planner of the event. “We call it the swag bag. The first hundred people to come to the event get these bags. They’re just filled with freebies from businesses who want to be a part of the event, but don’t actually have a food item they can share. So it’s full of all kinds of promo items like pens and coupons and different kinds of things.”

McCullough said the plan is to make the event bigger and better as it becomes annual.

“We did find that is was challenging for a lot of businesses to participate, because we had planned on Friday evening,” she said. “So we didn’t get quite the turnout that we were looking for this year, but I’m sure we’ll get it next year.”

Some of the local vendors planning to participate include Javier’s, Lucy’s Heavenly Bites, Fresh Market, Aloha Grindz Hawaiian Style BBQ, Naan -N- Curry, Village Inn, Burch Creek Mercantile and Coffee Winks. Coffee Winks just opened its doors about five months ago.

“It’s really unique . . . we do latte art, we have hot chocolate, sandwiches we try to do rather than the whole taking to-go coffee,” said Leon Araujo, the owner’s son and employee. “We try to get customers involved and come and sit down and have the people enjoy their coffee here. It’s just a different experience, so that you’re not just taking it in a to-go cup, but we do offer that.”

South Ogden City is holding the event in hopes of keeping local businesses thriving by encouraging the community to shop locally first.

“We noticed that people don’t get a chance to see past Wendy’s and McDonald’s and things like that, and there are so many great businesses just right in our community,” McCullough said. “We’re just trying to encourage people to shop locally first and try out some of these restaurants that are local, since that helps out with our community.”

Araujo said Coffee Winks will bringing items that are probably new to a lot of customers.

“We have a little coffee machine that we are going to take over there — like an espresso machine,” Araujo said. “Then we’re also taking cake, flan, and then we’re taking some ice cream also.”

Fresh Market plans on bringing a few homemade items, such as peanut butter bars, chocolate chip cookies and salsa.

“As part of our vision as a company, Fresh Market is to get involved in the community and help out where we can,” said Brandon Allred, manager of Fresh Market. “We saw it as a good opportunity to be able to present some fresh food that we have here at Fresh Market, so we made things that someone may not have tried before and will now get the chance to give a try and let it be known that that’s some of the things that we do here at the store.”

McCullough said the event should be a good opportunity for families and students to spend time together without spending any money.

“We’d love to encourage the student body to come,” McCullough said, “because, you know, they get to come try the local food, but it’s also kind of like a free date night. A lot of Weber students have families, so it’s a good family outing that’s free for our community.”