April showers, begone!

Tonight’s forecast calls for clear skies and full stomachs — Taste of Ardmore is back.

Following a month-long rain delay, the annual showcase and celebration featuring 18-20 of the city’s finest locally owned and operated eats and treats will begin at 5 p.m. at Ardmore’s Downtown Depot District.

The Ardmore Main Street Authority has made the event an annual tradition in Ardmore over the years. AMSA general manager Jeff DiMiceli said he’s seen the event grow from attracting hundreds to thousands and bringing in a vast array of food and entertainment.

And this year, despite the dreary start, DiMiceli said he expects the May reboot of ‘“Ardmore’s biggest block party” to draw up to 4,000 people when it’s all said and done.

“This is an event I look forward to and I think our community looks forward to all year,” DiMiceli said. “It’s usually a kick off for the spring, but this time we get to kick off the summer instead.”

While many organizers would have taken their ball and gone home, facing the logistical headache of lining up vendors, stages, attractions all over again after severe weather rained out the event,  DiMiceli said that wasn’t even considered for the AMSA.

“Taste of Ardmore is certainly about the food, and showcasing our fantastic restaurants, but something I realized is what an event like this means to our community,” DiMiceli said. “At first I expected people to get their food and go, but that didn’t happen. We saw people talking to each other. Meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with familiar faces. People stayed and talked and had fun well into the night. That’s the beauty of it. It really is big block party.”

And while there was some minor reshuffling of the food line up from the original event scheduled for April 6,  the AMSA director said the process to rescheduling the event, a sizable fundraiser for the AMSA’s effort to enrich the downtown area, was surprisingly smooth.

“We had to replace a few folks who had scheduling conflicts, but we’re pretty much back at capacity again,” he said. “Everything else, from the stages to the entertainment fell right back into place.”

In addition to the vast tasting menu featuring the gambit of Ardmore dining  from Two Frogs Grill to to standard deep fried carnival fare and everything in between, this year’s block party will feature live music, a kids’ play area that will feature face painting, costumed characters, bounce houses, games and activities as well as the debut of the Gypsy Vanner Horses.

Samantha Crook of the equine therapy nonprofit Courage initiative will showcase her show horses at the event for pictures.

“I think these horses are going to be a big hit, especially for the kids,” DiMiceli said. “They’re therapy horses, so they’re incredibly gentle and great with people. It’s something special that we’ve never had before.”

The Ardmore Police Department will shut down West Main Street, from B to C street at 1 p.m.  Cars parked in this area must be removed prior to the street closing, according to an AMSA press release.
Admission to the event is free, but to taste the Taste of Ardmore, you’ll need to buy a few tickets at the gate.

Tickets will be exchanged for food, drinks, goods sold at booths from local merchants selling their merchandise in the Depot District and other attractions like face painting, and admission into the bounce house.

The event will start begin at 5 p.m. and is expected to begin winding down around 9 p.m.