Sunday, August 6, 2017 || By Shanel Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 8/10/17
Sergio Minniti, of Westchester, and his business partner, Bobby Anzaldi, of Melrose Park, were nothing but smiles on Sunday as the first-ever Taste of Bellwood wrapped up.
Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey said the two-day event, which started on Aug. 5 and happened along Washington Blvd. (between Eastern and 25th Avenues), was perhaps the biggest event of its kind in nearly two decades, attracting a crowd he estimated may have been around 5,000 strong over two days.
The Taste of Bellwood featured Gospel music on Sunday. | Shanel Romain/VFP
For local businesses like Minniti’s and Anzaldi’s Minchia Meats Honey Hot Boneless, the weekend event meant revenues and additional exposure.
“So far, we’ve been killing it [in sales],” Anzaldi said. “We’re on pace to do what we’ve done at other events we’ve been at in the past.”
G.W. Skipper, of Skipper’s Clippers Beauty and Barber Salon, 236 Mannheim Rd. in Bellwood, said that he has no complaints.
Skipper was at the Taste introducing community members to the Carol Skipper Hair Care System, a natural hair care line of organic shampoos, conditioners and leave-in hair treatments.
The team with Carol Skipper Hair Care System at the Taste of Bellwood on Sunday. Right, an attendee explores the product. | Shanel Romain/VFP
“This has been good,” he said regarding both the business and the atmosphere of the Taste. “The whole environment is just nourishing.”
Sylvia Hiner, owner of Hillside-based MaSyls Delights, said that her bestseller was the banana pudding, but that she was also trying to steer foodies to her other offerings, which range from caramel candies to chocolate cake.
The Taste of Bellwood featured rides for young children. | Shanel Romain/VFP
“Business has been very good,” she said. “But a lot of people still don’t know about the caramel delights. This venue is good for me to expose people to that product.”
Harvey said that, along with over a dozen food vendors, the fest also featured at least 10 other non-food vendors. Beyond those, he said, were vendors from numerous area nonprofits and governmental entities such as the Bellwood Public Library, and Districts 88 and 209.
On Saturday, the Taste featured a classic car show. Both days featured a live stage with various musical acts, amusement rides and a senior citizen’s oasis, among other activities.
Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey, left, with community members at the Taste of Bellwood, which took place on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6. | Shanel Romain/VFP
“All in all, we’ve had about 35 vendors,” said Harvey, who was effusive in his thanks to Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico. Harvey said Serpico offered generous consultation on how to put on a community fest of this magnitude.
During an interview at last year’s Taste of Melrose Park, Serpico said that as many as 100,000 people may have strolled through the event’s grounds. The Taste of Melrose Park takes place this year between Sept. 1 and Sept. 3.
Bellwood’s finest during the town’s Taste on Sunday, keeping the peace. Mayor Andre Harvey said there were no incidents at this year’s event. | Shanel Romain/VFP
Bellwood’s Taste, while much smaller, was also rather intimate. According to attendees interviewed at both events, the Tastes often take the form of reunions.
The team with Minchia Meats Honey Hot Boneless in Bellwood on Sunday. | Shanel Romain/VFP
“People in the neighborhood have told me that this feels like a family or school reunion,” Harvey said. “There have been people here today who haven’t seen each other in years. We know this event will be ongoing for Bellwood, because this what our residents deserve.” VFP
Michael Romain contributed to this report. This post has been updated to reflect a new attendance estimate by Harvey, who said that around 5,000 people may have attended the Taste instead of at least 2,000 he originally estimated.