The Taste of Bloomington
The Taste of Bloomington is an annual food festival held in late June at the Showers Plaza on Morton Street. Originally begun by the Monroe County Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1981, it was designed as a showcase for local and national restaurant dishes. It also serves as the primary fundraiser for the Monroe County Community Kitchen and Hoosier Hills Foodbank.
Originally held at the Regester Parking Garage on Seventh and College, the festival moved to Showers Plaza in 1994 after outgrowing it's surroundings. The festival was originally sponsored by the Bloomington Area Restaurant Association. In 1988, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Monroe County joined in to help co-sponsor the event and use it as a fundraiser.
The festival appeared doomed in 1990 when the BARA all but disbanded and Big Brothers/Big Sisters voted to end it's association with the event. Though a highly anticipated event within the community, it netted little profit for the restaurants involved and the costs of administration became prohibitive for Big Brothers/Big Sisters to handle on their own. The gauntlet was quickly taken up by the Bloomington Downtown Commission It wasn't until 1993 that the current non-profit sponsors, the Monroe County Community Kitchen and Hoosier Hills Foodbank, became involved.
The 1994 move to Showers Plaza from Regester Parking Garage was necessary because the structure of the garage was ill-equiped to handle the crowds and movement during concerts. Live music was removed from the event's schedule in 1991 due to safety concerns. The move to Showers Plaza coincided with the renovation of the Showers Brothers Factory in the early 1990s.
The festival is usually paired with the Arts Fair on the Square.
- 1981: First Taste of Bloomington Festival
- 1988: Festival co-sponsored with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Monroe County
- 1991: Regester Garage sways with crows and live music is banned the following year
- 1994: First festival in new Showers Plaza parking lot; intense heat causes asphalt to melt and tentpoles to sink into the lot
- 1995: Food coupon system is discontinued and attendees pay vendors directly
- 1998: Festival uses to newly opened Showers Common area in the renovated Showers Plaza parking lot
- 1999: Festival expands to Saturday and Sunday
- 2000: Festival contracts back to one day
- 2003: Festival expands to close Morton Street from Seventh to Ninth Streets; Showers Plaza Steps used to set up amphitheater for live music
- 2006: 5,560 (rained out at 9:30 PM)
- 2005: 6,431
- 2004: 5,671
- 2000: 5,000 (est.)
- 1999: 6,000 (est.) Note: Two day total
- 1995: 6,000 (est.)
- 1994: 4,000 (est.)
- 1988: 7,000 (est.)