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Saturday, Mar 17, 2018
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Taste of New Tampa spicing things up this year

NEW TAMPA - Tribune staffThe community’s premier food-tasting festival is changing its recipe this year. For its 20-year celebration, the Taste of New Tampa will have extended hours, a Battle of the Bands contest, reduced admission prices, and new individual ticket prices for the food venues. It’s also changing locations. The festival will pitch its tent Sunday at Primrose Park, tucked behind the Primrose School of Tampa Palms.
The annual festival draws a crowd to sample entrees and desserts prepared by chefs and cooks from area restaurants and specialty shops. “We are really excited, because this is the first time we are doing things a little different than before,” said Regina Ramalheira, president of the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce. “It has been such a strong event for us for many, many years. It had dwindled a little in the last couple of years. We wanted to switch it up.” The chamber, made up of area businesses and people who live or work in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel, hosts the annual spring event. The organizers plan to extend the festival by two hours, running from noon to 6 p.m. This also will be the first time in years the festival will be on private property, which will allow the chamber to sell beer and wine. It couldn’t do that in recent years because the event was held on school sites. The event, commonly referred to as "The Taste," was staged at Wharton High on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard the previous two years. Before that, it made a two-year run at the Freedom High and Liberty Middle school campus on Commerce Park Boulevard. An amphitheater-like environment is being arranged for the garage band and club band competition. The winning band will receive $500. An area band named Big Brothers also will entertain the crowd, Ramalheira said. “They have a strong following,” she said. A tradition since 1983, the Taste of New Tampa began as an annual community fundraiser to assist area public schools and nonprofit organizations. This year, the chamber plans to donate a portion of its proceeds to the Florida Hospital Foundation.

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Taste of New Tampa spicing things up this year