Nancy Benson waited in line for more than 15 minutes Saturday for a sample of Yukon taquito, served with chili-lime sauce and avocado, cooked by Spokane’s Wild Sage American Bistro.
“It’s worth the wait,” Benson said. “I’m going back for seconds.”
Seconds, thirds, maybe even fourths weren’t uncommon for the thousands of “foodies” like Benson, who came to sample eats from top-rated Spokane restaurants at the Spokane Festival of Foodies at Spokane Community College.
The ninth annual event also featured wines, spirits and microbrews from area wineries, breweries and distilleries.
The event draws 1,200 to 1,500 people each year, said Donna Tikker, coordinator for the Eastern Washington chapter of the Washington Restaurant Association.
Vendors pay a $100 entry fee, and attendees pay $15 at the door for unlimited samples. Wines and spirits are $1 each, after two freebies. All proceeds from ticket sales go to the restaurant association.
“It’s really about exposure,” Tikker said, as food vendors hope to draw the foodies into their restaurants and shops.
This year, however, there were noticeably fewer vendors than in years past.
“There were a lot bigger names here last year,” said Chris Clark, 29, of Hayden. Clark has been attending the event since he turned 21.
“I like to try new things, and there’s no place better,” Clark said. “But I would have liked to see more offerings this year.”
Tikker said the decline in vendors is due in part to the economy, but more likely it’s because this year’s event fell during the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Spokane Arena. The skating event concludes Sunday, with skaters and fans from all over the country converging on Spokane.
Restaurants, especially those near the Arena, have “just been swamped,” Tikker said. “That’s very exciting for them.”
“We’ve seen quite of a few of them eating at our restaurant before they head to the shows,” said Jacob Jones, the kitchen manager at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant downtown.
Despite the skating frenzy, the popular Italian eatery didn’t miss an opportunity to attend the annual culinary event at SCC.
Detlef Dorsch, a German native who now lives in Greenacres, waited to sample tiramisu from Luigi’s.
“I don’t come to eat,” Dorsch said. “I come to taste.”