As The Inter-Mountain and Elkins Distributing prepare for Thursday's Taste of Home Cooking School, a number of local companies are gearing up for the event's exclusive vendor fair.
As a popular portion of Taste of Home, the fair showcases a blend of area businesses prior to the live cooking show. Taste of Home attendees are welcome to stroll through the fair, where they might check out free samples, buy a unique gift, meet a local business owner or learn about supporting a charity.
The fair is set to start at 2 p.m., and it will feature nearly 30 booths. It will wrap up at 6:15 p.m., just in time for guests to be seated for the cooking demonstration at 6:30 p.m. - when culinary specialist Cheryl Cohen will create a memorable cooking experience for everyone in the audience.
The Inter-Mountain file photo
Residents enjoy the 2012 vendor fair at Taste of Home. Several local companies are gearing up for this year’s event slated for Thursday.
Hope Anderson, owner of Third Street Trading Co. in Elkins, said she and her staff look forward to Taste of Home each year.
"This is our third year participating, and it's always a lot of fun," said Anderson, whose shop in downtown Elkins offers jewelry, accessories, gifts and food items.
Anderson said she and her staff will bring free samples to the shop's vendor booth at Taste of Home, such as chocolate, hard tack candy, Italian food items and Jelly Belly jelly beans.
"We just started selling Jelly Belly, so we rented an official costume from the company and we'll have Mr. Jelly Belly there," Anderson said. "It's going to be fun, and it's a good way to get some exposure."
Joe Cutright, owner of Ralph's Furniture in Buckhannon, agreed the event offers a great opportunity to reach out to customers.
"Last year was the first year we participated, and it was just a good success," Cutright said. "It's great exposure to help get our name out there."
He said the business will have a display at the vendor fair as well as on stage, so attendees will be able to see great examples of dining room pieces as well as living room and bedroom suites.
Cutright also said he is pleased the business can offer the grand prize again at Taste of Home - a $1,000 shopping spree to Ralph's Furniture.
"It generated a lot of excitement and anticipation last year," Cutright said, and the same is true this year.
In addition to the huge grand prize, many other wonderful prizes are available for attendees. One of the other larger prizes will be a special sewing machine from Elkins Sewing Center.
Sue Pifer, owner of the Elkins Sewing Center, said the sewing machine is designed with quilters in mind, coming with several accessories. The Husqvarna Viking model is worth an approximate retail value of $500.
Elkins Sewing Center also is a stage sponsor, so quilts and other items from her shop will be on display.
Pifer said this is the third time her business will participate in Taste of Home.
"We like to participate in community events, and it's an opportunity for some people who might not have time to come in and see what we have in the store to get a taste of just a little bit of what we offer," she said.
During the vendor fair, attendees will be able to see some of the projects offered at the Elkins Sewing Center, ask questions about classes or even purchase a handmade item.
"It's just fun to have an opportunity to visit with folks," she said.
The Inter-Mountain has brought this popular vendor fair and live cooking show to the local community since 2011. This year, the show's location will be in the new National Guard Armory near Belington - where attendees will enjoy free parking and easy access, all one one level.
VIP ticket holders will be able to park at the armory. All others will be directed to the Junior Volunteer Fire Department, where complimentary shuttles will run between the parking area there and the armory venue. These shuttles will begin at 2 p.m. and run until all guests have been returned to their vehicles after the show.
Publisher Heather Goodwin Henline said the event offers a full evening of entertainment and great prizes, and tickets are a tremendous value.
"Our general-admission tickets only are $10, and the odds of winning are pretty good when you consider our audience capacity is limited to 700," Goodwin Henline said of the large selection of valuable prizes, which will be handed out during the cooking show.
Admission to the Cooking School event not only will enable individuals to see the live demonstrations and vendors - and have a chance to win prizes - but all participants also will receive a complimentary tote bag filled with sample products, coupons, discount offers from local and national vendors and a copy of Taste of Home magazine.
Businesses and agencies participating in the vendor fair will include Aaron's, A Domestic Friend, Avon, Bath Fitter, Budweiser/Elkins Distributing, Catholic Charities, Davis Health System, Elk Springs Resort, Elkins Sewing Center, Ellie May's Restaurant, Kissel Stop, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Nerium, Nick's Ice Cream Truck, Olde Primitive Treasures, Paparazzi, Ralph's Furniture, Randolph County Senior Center, Spruce Knob Wood Products, The Inter-Mountain, The RailYard Restaurant, Third Street Trading Co., Tupperware and Valentine Personal Care & Assisted Living.
Full-service meals will be available, and guests are encouraged to come early and dine before the show gets underway. One of the tasty options will include The RailYard Restaurant's pork barbecue sandwich with cole slaw, as well as signature crepes for dessert. Tables will be set up for attendees to sit down and enjoy their purchases.
Limited Taste of Home tickets remain and may be purchased at The Inter-Mountain's Elkins location at 520 Railroad Ave., or by calling 304-636-2121. Tickets purchased before Thursday's event are buy-one, get-one-free and they will be full price at the door if any remain.