Launched in 2002 as a fundraiser by the Orchard Park Elementary PTO, the 2021 event would have been the last organized by that group, as the school will permanently close later this month at the end of the school year. When Taste of Carmel resumes, it will be under the direction of the Carmel Education Foundation, which raises funds and provides resources for all Carmel Clay Schools campuses.
CEF Executive Director Jennifer Penix said the transition makes sense, as Taste of Carmel had evolved to become an event attended by a much broader audience than just Orchard Park families.
“There was participation from parents and families from every school, so even though it was initially benefiting just Orchard Park, it really grew into a community-wide event,” Penix said.
It’s also a bit of a homecoming for Penix, who chaired the event for six years as an Orchard Park parent.
“Orchard Park and the foundation are both very near and dear to me, so I am grateful for the opportunity to bridge these together and make it an even more powerful experience,” she said.
Carmel,” Walsworth stated. “Jennifer worked tirelessly on Taste of Carmel for many years and elevated the event to be enjoyed by over 1,000 guests each year.”
Penix expects the structure of the 2022 event to be similar to past years, with guests sampling food and drinks from a variety of local restaurants. The First Taste VIP event is set to return as well.
The revived Taste of Carmel may be smaller, Penix said, with organizers aiming to recruit 30 vendors for now. Depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time of the event, however, that might change. She said it’s possible Taste of Carmel could feature 50 or more vendors, as it did in early 2020.
Taste of Carmel will serve as the foundation’s spring fundraiser, replacing the annual telethon.
“(The telethon) outdated itself,” Penix said. “It was not an effective model any longer. We were looking for a spring event, so our timing was really fortuitous.”