BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — One of Western New York's most popular summer events is going virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers for the 2020 Taste of Buffalo say they will host an 'at home' event that will support local restaurants, wineries, and FeedMore WNY.
The first ever virtual Taste will take place on July 11 and July 12 on the event's Facebook and Instagram channels.
More than half of the restaurants, food trucks, and wineries that were slated to participate in the original event will prepare special food and beverage deals available for takeout.
"In Western New York and around the world, the restaurant industry has been devastated by our new reality as a result of COVID-19. We can't be together in person, so our board of directors took a leap of faith and reinvented our festival in a virtual format to support the restaurants we all love so much," said Erin Collins, 2020 Taste of Buffalo chair. "Taste of Buffalo at Home would not be possible without generous support from Tops Friendly Markets, and we are so grateful to have a partner that shares our love for food and community. We hope you'll join us this July – at home – as we come together to eat, drink and Taste!"
Taste of Buffalo is big business for local restaurants and food vendors.
“The boosting power of the Taste of Buffalo is like no other street festival," said Michael Pierro, the owner-operator of Mineo and Sapio's food truck.
This year would've been Mineo and Sapio's fifth year at Taste of Buffalo. In past years they've won in the healthy options category, best sandwich category, and childrens choice category. Pierro said the festival gives them key exposure that lasts beyond that second weekend in July.
“They’ll come through, they’ll try some of the specialty items that we feature at the Taste of Buffalo and we’ll start getting phone calls and just foot traffic right here through the store," Pierro said.
In addition to the virtual festival, the following events will also go digital
- Interactive Cooking Demonstrations and Competitions
- Tops Virtual Wheel of Prizes
- Live Music Presented by Tops
- Taste of Fun KidZone
Collins said in the beginning there were talks of postponing the date, but ultimately Taste of Buffalo decided that would not be in everyone's best interest.
“There’s just too many people involved to be able to move that date, and it’s really not the Taste of Buffalo unless it’s that second weekend of July," said Collins.
Collins added that the date also was not moved because there's no guarantee it could happen later in the summer.
Taste of Buffalo is the second largest food festival in the country, drawing more than 400,000 people to downtown Buffalo every summer.