tasteAn editorial by Gary Nager

It’s official! The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce (WCCC) has agreed to allow the Rotary Club of New Tampa — which meets Friday mornings for breakfast at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club and which celebrated its 20th anniversary last month — to “take over” and resurrect the Taste of New Tampa, which was last held in Primrose Park in Tampa Palms in 2014.

The WCCC took over the right to put on the Taste in Feb. 2015, when the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce agreed to be absorbed by the Wesley Chapel Chamber.

Less than a year later, with the WCCC already having divested itself of its other major event — the Wesley Chapel Fall Festival (by turning it over to an event company) — WCCC CEO Hope Allen was happy to meet with New Tampa Rotary media honcho Karen Frashier earlier this month to discuss the possibility of the Rotary Club taking over what had been (for 20 years) the premier single-day event held in (and around) New Tampa.

taste2I am proud to say that I helped facilitate and sat in on that meeting, where the two reached an agreement in principal that Frashier brought back to current New Tampa Rotary president Lesley Zajac, president-elect Brice Wolford and the rest of the club’s Board. The vote was unanimous, but while the agreement and trademark transfer still have to be finalized — “dotting all of the ‘i’s and crossing all of the ‘t’s,” as Zajac called it — the good news is that there will again be a Taste of New Tampa.

“Our Board members were very excited to move ahead with this opportunity to revive a very popular community event for our area,” Zajac said following the vote.

OK, So…When?

Zajac’s term as New Tampa Rotary president ends on July 1 of this year, when Wolford assumes the reins of the club. Sometime between now and then, after the agreement has been finalized, Wolford says it makes sense for the Rotary to host an initial meeting — that we will promote in these pages — to find out who is interested (in addition to yours truly) in being involved in what promises to be a six-to-eight-month plan to revive the event sometime in March (and no later than early April) 2017, at a site also to be determined.

That means the planning stage won’t start in earnest until Wolford takes over the presidency and the long-time New Tampa Rotarian says he’s excited to add a new spring-time event to pair with the club’s annual “Wiregrass Wobble Turkey Trot 5K,” the major annual fall event the club has hosted the last three years.

tatste3The Taste also will replace the New Tampa Rotary PigFest, which the New Tampa “Breakfast” Club ran for eight years, with the last one being held in 2012, as the Rotary Club’s major springtime event.

“We really appreciate the trust the Wesley Chapel Chamber has shown in us by allowing us to be the organization that revives the Taste,” Wolford said. “We see it as a tremendous complement to our fund-raising efforts for this community.”

I already promised the Rotary Board that I would be happy to once again help with attracting restaurants — which was my primary function for most of the 20 previous Tastes, although I also was the event chair or co-chair several times and a two-term president of the now-defunct New Tampa Community Council, which created the event in 1994. The Council ultimately became the New Tampa Chamber, which then put on the last few Tastes.

The bottom line? Considering the amazing work the New Tampa Rotary Club has done in not only the New Tampa community but also regionally and even internationally, I know the event I used to call “my baby” is once again destined for greatness.

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