Organizers of the annual Taste of Charlotte may be forgiven for crossing their fingers while reciting the street festival’s official toast Friday:
“If it rains, may it rain sunshine.
When it’s cold, may it be the coolest event in town.
When it’s windy, may the breeze blow good fortunes.
And when it’s over, may we all drink success!”
The rain part is pretty much guaranteed for the first day of the three-day festival that lines Tryon Street with 33 food vendors, two entertainment stages, a marketplace with crafts and local foods, and a kids’ play area that includes a rock wall and trampoline.
Tropical Storm Andrea, coming up over Florida and heading north along the East Coast, is expected to bring heavy rains to the Charlotte area Friday. Once it passes, Saturday and Sunday are expected to return to normal early summer weather – hot, with high temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s, and partly sunny with a chance of occasional thunderstorms.
Carrie Griffin, event producer for Taste of Charlotte, says the festival is a rain-or-shine event. For a quick storm, people can go into restaurants and other businesses that will be operating right behind the tents and vendors on Tryon Street. “So far, so good,” Griffin said during setup Thursday. “We have had bad storms and wind in the past.”
On Thursday, the tents were going up as planned. Tryon Street is closed between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Sixth Street, and Trade Street is closed between Church and College streets. After 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Third, Fourth and Fifth streets closed between College and Church; those will reopen from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday, then will close again. All streets will reopen at 10 p.m. Sunday.
Weather aside, this year’s Taste of Charlotte will bring plenty of food opportunities. Restaurants range from Sauceman’s Barbecue to Zizi’s Vegan. “We probably have about a dozen vegetarian items,” Griffin said. “But we have a lot of things wrapped in bacon, too.” Among those: McCormick & Schmick’s Shrimp Kisses – fried shrimp wrapped in bacon.
In addition to the Main Stage entertainment, you’ll also find entertainment at Tavern at the Taste, sponsored by Somersby Hard Cider, which is new to the U.S. Food and drink items are sold by coins and usually range from one to three coins for food items, two for nonalcoholic beverages and four for beer and wine. Coins are $10 for seven or $20 for 15.
In the kids’ entertainment area, you can use coins, or you can get them wristbands. A $12 wristband gets all-day access to nine inflatables, while the $20 Extreme Wrist Band includes the inflatables and the rock wall, gyro and trampoline.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on – including sudden changes for rain – the best option is to follow along on Facebook, under Taste of Charlotte Festival. Griffin promises frequent updates: “If there is severe weather and the police and fire department tell us to shut down, we’ll announce it there.”
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