By KAITLYN NAPLES
Last month, if you went out to eat in Bristol you probably saw one or two people getting 20 percent off their food bill. Those people were one of the many who purchased a “Taste of Bristol” ticket from the West End Association.
Dave Hamelin, treasurer of the association, said 1,060 tickets were sold for the month-long Taste of Bristol, an initiative meant to encourage residents to support their local establishments and keep their money in the city they live in.
“It went really, really well,” Hamelin said, adding that the association plans to have the event again next year.
Over 30 restaurants in the entire city participated in the event, which also acted as a fundraiser for the West End Association to continue to do what it does to make the area a better place to live, work and play. Residents purchased the Taste of Bristol tickets for $5 and were able to use it at one of the participating restaurants and receive 20 percent off the food portion of their bills. Hamelin said the association hasn’t gone out to all of the participating restaurants yet to get feedback, but the ones he has spoken to personally have said they enjoyed participating and had several customers use their tickets.
Fundraising events like the Taste of Bristol will go towards other community outreach events, like the block party at Rockwell Park this summer which will be put on by the West End Association.
The association held it for the first time last year, in conjunction with the Fisher House Foundation. However, this year, the association will be hosting the block party on its own, and Hamelin said it is a large expense that the association takes on.
“The association makes nothing off of this event,” Hamelin said, adding that it is a way to bring residents from the neighborhood, and the entire city, to enjoy a day at the park and explore what Bristol has to offer.
This year, the event will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17, and will include music, food, craft and business vendors, artists and their work, sports tournaments and more. Hamelin said there are already “quite a few” vendors from the area who are interested in participating in the block party, which will be free for guests. Also, in and around the pavilion at the park will be artwork showcased and also artists from the area working on projects, live.
Last year, between the two days the event was held, Hamelin said he believes roughly 10,000 people came out to the park.
“This isn’t a fundraiser for us,” he said, “this is our way of raising awareness about the West End neighborhood and our association, as well as bring people out into the community.”
This year there will be a basketball and volleyball tournament, and a skateboard demonstration, as well as a car show. The association will have music entertainment all day geared towards all audiences, and association member Jesse Jablon, who organized the Taste of Bristol, is planning to spearhead a smaller version of the Taste of Bristol with a “restaurant row” kind of event featuring local restaurants. Hamelin said restaurants have said they’d be interested in making one or two of their dishes to have people try and purchase while at the event. He also said the association is working with Renaissance Downtowns and Bristol Rising to share vendors that it has had at its annual Pop-Up Piazza.
“We just want to have a nice block party for people from the neighborhood to come down, meet people in the association, and have a good time,” Hamelin said.
The association is a little over one-year-old, and has about 26 individual paid members, and 17 businesses that are paid members as well. It meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Riverview Apartments, 171 Laurel St., Bristol. All meetings are open to the public.
By KAITLYN NAPLES