In its ninth year, the festival has seen as many as 12,000 patrons, and this year will feature about 30 vendors. Delicacies range from fresh-shucked oysters, chicken lollipops and veggie cakes to more familiar fair offerings such as pizza, mini corn dogs and chicken nuggets. Also on the menu: shrimp rolls, fried plantains, beef brisket, bread pudding, lollipops and much more.
Walton parents and students both organize and run the event.
Organizers say Taste of East Cobb is unique because — unlike other food festivals — profits are split between the restaurants and the Walton music program.
“Only a small portion of the funding required to sustain such a distinguished music program from year to year is provided by Cobb County, meaning band students and their families are responsible for the remainder,” said festival publicity chair Lorna Chastain, who is also a band parent.
Chastain said this year’s festival is especially important because the Walton band will be traveling to Pasadena, Calif., to march in the 125th annual Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.
Taste of East Cobb and other fundraisers put on by the boosters also helps the music program bring in clinicians to help the young musicians master their instruments. Additionally, the fundraisers offset the costs of equipment and instrument repair at the end of the school year.
Chastain says east Cobb — which includes neighborhoods that feed into the Walton, Pope, Wheeler, Lassiter, Kell, and Sprayberry school districts — has “a great sense of community.”
“We all love where we live, and it gives us a chance to show off our camaraderie and sense of belonging to a special place,” Chastain said. “(Taste of East Cobb) is a perfect environment for local restaurants to promote their establishments to the community and target many new diners.”
In addition to food vendors, festival-goers can browse booths set up by artisans, community businesses, and health care groups.
School jazz bands will entertain guests throughout the day. Children will find plenty to do in the kid zone, which will feature inflatables.
Attendees are encouraged to bring canned items for donation to MUST Ministries.
“People forget that there is hunger every day. It is a good time of year to replenish the shelves at MUST,” Chastain said.
A donation of five canned items will earn attendees one food ticket valued at $1. Food samples will cost between one and five tickets, but Chastain says plenty of vendors will be offering fare for just one ticket.
Chastain said the participating restaurants are “very pro-community and pro-schools.” She encourages the community to attend Taste of East Cobb because the “food is so tasty and the kids have a great time, while the adults can mingle and shop.”
IF YOU GO ...
- WHAT: Taste of East Cobb
- WHEN: Today from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- WHERE: The Fountains of Olde Towne, 736 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta
- COST: Food tickets are $1 apiece. Food will cost between 1 and 5 tickets. A donation of five canned items to MUST Ministries will earn festival-goers one $1 food ticket.
- INFO: www.tasteofeastcobb.com