By Anya Rath Staff Writer
Old Town, Lansing successfully hosted its sixth annual Taste & Tour of Old Town, a progressive food sampler and exclusive loft tour, on April 13, 2013.
The event lasted from noon until 5 p.m. and tickets, sold by the Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA), were $5 for just the loft tours and $15 for the loft tour along with food samples.
Ten food vendors opened up their kitchens and served samples to those with tickets. Additionally, six loft owners opened their doors to the general public.
Louise Gradwohl, executive director of the OTCA, said that planning had been underway since February.
“We work with different restaurants and we brought in a few of our member food vendors,” Gradwohl said. “It’s a great way to inform the public of the restaurants down here and it’s great PR. It’ll bring back business from the next time.”
Gradwohl added that the ticket sales are a great fundraiser for the OTCA. The money raised went back to Old Town to help with the different projects throughout the year. The difference between the Taste & Tour and the other festivals that usually go on in Old Town is that this event was much more interactive and intimate.
Gradwohl added that the kid friendly atmosphere was attractive to families.
Chad Jordan, the owner of Cravings Popcorn, said that the event brought in a lot of new people.
“All of the festivals in Old Town bring a lot of fresh new faces,” Jordan said. “It’s always a boost for our business and it’s really good for the community.”
Jordan said that at these types of events, Cravings usually sees between 200-300 people in a day.
“Hopefully the people keep coming back because they enjoyed what they did,” Jordan said.
Cheryl Engfehr, a resident of Haslett, Mich., said she has attended previous festivals in Old Town but this year’s Taste & Tour was her first one.
Engfehr said: “I think it’s beautiful. It’s such an eclectic mix of shops and buildings. The history has been really preserved. It’s just fun to walk around.”
Engfehr came with a friend and spent around two hours walking around Old Town, sampling and touring. Engfehr plans on coming back next year for the seventh annual Taste & Tour.
“I think this is really cool,” Engfehr said. “The people open up their apartments and lofts so we can see the cool buildings from the inside. Everybody down here seems to really creative so I like seeing what they’ve done with the place.”
Leah Lakdawala, an owner of one of the lofts open to the tour, also enjoyed her first year participating in the Taste & Tour.
“It’s fun and a great way to meet new people,” Lakdawala said. “It seems like a lot of the people in the community are out and about and getting some good exposure.”
Lakdawala, who has been living in Old Town since September 2012, enjoys living in the neighborhood.
“It’s pretty lively because of the festivals,” Lakdawala said.
Gradwohl said that a new change for this year’s Taste & Tour was the entertainment portion. The OTCA had three bands playing through the entirety of the event.
“We just wanted to bring the local flavor so people could get the whole experience [of Old Town,” Gradwohl said.