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Wednesday, July 17,2013

The sample life

Taste of Lansing returns with new bands, more wine and an after party

by Kali Jo Wolkow
Not even the most voracious foodies can say they’ve eaten at a dozen different restaurants in the span of five hours. But at the Taste of Downtown event this weekend, you can knock 16 local eateries off your to-do list over a casual stroll through downtown Lansing. 

“People don’t have to travel all over the place to try out the restaurants,” said Cathleen Edgerly, spokeswoman for Downtown Lansing Inc., which is hosting the event. “They can sample all kinds of foods from downtown in a single block.”

For the fourth consecutive year, Lansing’s Washington Square will become the stomping ground for the capital area’s food, wine and music lovers. You can try shawarma (Aladdin’s Express), sushi (Anqi Sushi Express), pie (Grand Traverse Pie Co.) or take a waffle on a walk (Wandering Waffles) all in the same afternoon. Last year, over 750 people attended the event, despite scorching summer highs. Dana Kromer, promotions committee chairwoman, said this year’s attendance may get as high as 900. 

In addition to the 16 of downtown’s 40-plus restaurants that will have sampling booths, the event will feature over 100 varieties of wine and four bands will play a rainbow of genres. If suds are your thing, there will be classic American beers and handcrafted microbrews on tap. 

While adults are tasting wine from all corners of the globe, children’s activities will be available to turn this weekend summer afternoon into a creative fun day for kids. At the Jackson National Life Kids Corner, kids of all ages will be invited to participate in activities sponsored by the Downtown Y and Lansing City Market, featuring face painting and an event that will combine geology, biology and art. Seriously.  

“(We’re) going to teach kids how to make snails out of rocks,” Kromer said “They’re absolutely adorable.” 

And what’s a party without tunes? The Southpaw Isle Steelband, a steel percussion group, will mellow the crowd with its blend of jazz, classical, samba and calypso rhythms. The metal drums will give way to the classic rock, modern pop, slow jams and funk of cover band Avon Bomb. The third act will be Root Doctor, a blues, R&B and classical soul mix, and wrapping up the festivities will be local cover band, The Squids. 

Although the bands, food and activities will be all done by 8 p.m., the revelry won’t be quite done yet: For the first time, the Taste of Downtown has an official after party. Located at Downtown’s 8-month-old P Squared Wine Bar & Bistro, the after party will continue the party with, of course, more food, wine and music. 

“The Taste of Downtown is very wine-oriented,” said Paul Bussard, co-owner of P Squared. “We jumped on the bandwagon really early and decided be a sponsor. It’s (also) a good way to get more visibility.”

With their wine bar smack dab in the middle of the event’s location, it would be hard not to notice them. As event attendees for the three previous years, P Squared’s co-owners Paul Fox and Bussard have sipped and sampled their way through the local restaurant scene. And this year, not only will they have a booth, but their food and wine will be served at the after party. 

Adult attendees will receive a limited edition Taste of Downtown wine tasting glass, four food tickets and six wine sampling tickets with their ticket.

“This event is showing how downtown is vibrant and full of life with lots of great restaurants,” Kromer said. “It is a family oriented place, which is why we always have a couple kids’ activities. It captures the spirit of downtown Lansing.”

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