By Chris Boggus
Entirely East Lansing
All residents of the Lansing area will be able to gather downtown, April 25, for the fourth annual Taste of East Lansing. There will be 15 food vendors, live music, and children’s activities from 3-6 p.m. that Saturday.
“Two dollars per ticket: one dollar goes to the vendor, and one dollar is split between the Community Relations Coalition and our community sponsor, which this year is Capital Area Housing Partnership,” said Megan Clark, assistant to the city manager. “It’s a joint fundraiser, and a good opportunity for vendors because it gets their name out there, and supports two nonprofit organizations.”
Clark is on the board for the Community Relations Coalition.
“The primary purpose of the organization is to create a really good foundation between students and permanent residents, and it has really morphed into a community-building function,” said Clark. “Every year we hire ten interns that are funded through the CRC and they are partnered with an East Lansing resident who helps take them under their wing.”
Kary Moyer, a senior at Michigan State, has been an intern with the CRC for the past year.
“The CRC is really great for me as a student,” said Moyer. “Other than the professional experience, I’ve gotten to know East Lansing more in the past year than I did my previous three years at MSU. I had no idea how much there was in the community before I started my work with the CRC.”
Annette Irwin, a senior board member of the CRC, says the most unique part of their organization is its value in relationships among student interns and East Lansing residents.
“We have Michigan State student interns who really become ambassadors for the area of the community in which they live; whether that be Bailey, Red Cedar or Oakhill,” said Irwin.
Moyer and her fellow interns help recruit the different vendors for this event among other tasks.
“I specifically worked with Beggar’s Banquet and Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez!,” said Moyer. “I have also been working with the marketing committee for the event. We put together the promotional material and are now organizing the advertising coordination for the event.”
The biggest lesson Moyer has learned through her internship is the importance of communication.
“I think the most important skill I have learned, though, is about building relationships across the community to better the city as a whole, and how important it is to foster communication between different groups in East Lansing,” said Moyer.
The Taste of East Lansing event is an important community builder for residents of all ages, and has grown over the past three years.
“This is held when the students are still here, the weather is starting to warm up, and it’s fun for little kids as well as the older people,” said Clark.“So you could be 3 and come eat food, and do children’s activities, or you could be 80 and come eat food while listening to the music.”
There is the annual ice cream social in the fall, and the Taste of East Lansing in the spring. CRC is proud of both of these community-building events, because not all college towns have the same interwoven community between residents and students.
“Our community is wonderful, but we are not unique as a college town situation,” said Irwin. “You could go anywhere in the world and they will struggle with the same issues we do, but our intern structure at the CRC is very unique compared to most other college towns.”
This year’s Taste of East Lansing event should be a good turnout, according to Moyer.
“There is definitely more momentum going into this year. It is an event that businesses and community members recognize now, which makes it easier to organize and promote. I am certain that Taste of East Lansing will be an event in the years to come and will continue to engage community members.”
Tickets can be purchased upon arrival for $2 each.