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I'm starting to think that the problem I'm having with the Bite of Salem is with my own vision of the event and not the event itself. What comes to my mind when I think about what I would want in this event is a restaurant oriented get together where food is the highlight of the day. Local restaurants would put out their best food in small portions for people to try in hopes of attracting these customers back to their restaurants later in the year. It would be a chance to speak directly with chef's and restaurant owners about what is happening in the industry around town. How about a stage where local chef's can prepare a meal while people watch and learn cooking techniques. This is what I would want in the event but it's not what the event is.
The Bite of Salem is a fundraiser for the Boy's and Girl's Club of Salem. It is a carnival like atmosphere with live music and food booths both from local kitchens and national chains. It's located at Riverfront Park overlooking the Willamette River with plenty of space to walk and people watch. My son and I got bites from Casey's Hot Dogs, $3 for the dog pictured here and a couple of tacos for $2 each from JR's Taqueria. For dessert, Coldstone cooled us down with a rootbeer float, $4 and a scoop of my favorite coffee lovers in a cup for $3.50.
We were there during the battle of the bands event on Saturday where a handful of local musical groups performed to a small crowd in the audience. You didn't need to sit in front of the stage to hear bands battle. At just about every square inch of the property the music was so loud you could hardly carry on a conversation with anyone else. This was kind of a spoiler for us. It made it uncomfortable to sit at tables and enjoy the day. I know, I'm getting old, and in my day I would have been the one cranking up the music myself. It reminded me of my college days, riding in the back of my friends VW Rabbit, listening to tapes of new rock bands on speakers that were so large, there wasn't any room for a trunk. It was as if turning it up louder would somehow make the music sound better. It didn't sound better and cranking the volume up to eleven at the Bite made the experience less enjoyable for us. We tried to get some relief from the musical melee by heading down to look a the Willamette Queen launch from it's dock but the audio carried even down there. In fact, when we got home in south Salem, a couple of miles away, I could still hear the thumping from the stack of speakers downtown.
Another attraction of this event is the carnival rides. If you like to be flipped around by dizzying portable carnival rides this is the place to be. A ferris wheel in the center of it all, lifts riders high above the park offering views of downtown Salem and the Willamette River. Hold onto your wallets though, the game operators, were pretty aggressive recruiting people into their activities. At just about every booth that we walked by, we were offered a guaranteed prize for every participant. Tempting us to throw a couple of darts at a wall of balloons.
It is a bit disappointing that there are national chains represented at the Bite of Salem, but it is what it is. There were lot's of customers ordering slices of pizza from Pizza Hut and we even treated ourselves to Coldstone Creamery. Salem is still a haven for fast food chains and it almost feels ok that they are represented here.
On the positive side, I rediscovered JR's and will be ordering tacos from there again soon. It feels good to support the Boy's and Girl's Club and the South Salem Rotary should be applauded for putting this all together.
Photo highlights from The Bite of Salem 2009
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Update 7/31/09 8:26am
A group of eatsalem.com folks are heading to The Bite of Salem between noon and 3p on Saturday. Look for people wearing the eatsalem.com spoon logo(seen below) introduce yourself and join the fun. Click on the logo and print it out then put it somewhere on your body so people know you're with eatsalem.com. Be sure to come back to eatsalem.com and tell everyone how it went. For more information contact Liseanne through Twitter, or leave a comment below and someone will respond back.
Bite of Salem 2009
Here it is again, The Bite of Salem 2009. I just picked up this flyer from Coldstone. (I ordered my usual, coffee lovers, small.) Looks like it's too late already to get the fifteen dollar deal on the all day ride tickets. I know it's been said here before but it seems like a few too many chains in the Bite of Salem line up. Pizza Hut? Can you imagine someone walking paste the local options and picking up a personal pan pepperoni pizza. The only way I would end up in line at the Panda Express is if one of my children was throwing a fit in the middle of the place demanding chow mein. Fortunately Casey's is going to be there so I'll always be able to coax my children toward their fantastic hot dogs and fries. One new addition to the line up this year is French Press. Hopefully the temps will cool down a bit putting more people in the mood for their coffee. The donation to get in is $3 per person and the money goes toward the Boy's and Girls Club. It starts Friday July 31 at 11am and runs through Sunday.