hartford taste festival

Crowds Return for Second Day of Hartford Taste Festival

The Hartford Taste Festival brought people and restaurants together for a celebration of food.

The capital city celebrated Day Two of the Hartford Taste Festival Saturday with more than 25 different restaurants and cultures to choose from.

It's a festival that comes to downtown Hartford for the first time in 20 years and works to support Connecticut Foodshare as well as many small businesses in the Greater Hartford area. 

"So many people do not realize how many food insecure people there are in Connecticut, so this is an opportunity to give awareness and to also support," said spokesperson Jeannette Dardenne.

People were able to try their favorites or go international with Jamaican, Japanese, or Peruvian dishes. Proceeds also supported new businesses that opened and are recovering from the pandemic. 

One of those restaurants is Jamaican Jerk Shack, which opened its doors three years ago in August. Owner Shawn McDonald says he started with 2 employees and now has a team of eight.

"It's really awesome. It's good because the number one key for me is exposure," said McDonald.

While downtown Hartford has been home to food festivals in the past, this is the inaugural Hartford Taste Festival with nearly 90 percent of Hartford restaurants represented. Visitors said they were eager to eat and give back.

"The food is excellent. We went over to the republic and had their egg rolls. "It was delicious. We're waiting for stuff to come over there in Fornarelli's. And we've just been looking forward to this because you get to taste a little bit of everything," said Frank Belknap of Manchester.

People also enjoyed live entertainment. Nearly 20 music acts took the stage throughout the day to create quite the scene downtown.

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