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Local officials: 'Taste of Clayton' is back

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Local residents are being invited by officials from Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., the City of Jonesboro, and the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, to try a new "Taste" of the county this spring.

Historical Jonesboro's annual "Taste of Clayton" event will return, after a nearly two-year hiatus. There will be new co-sponsors: the City of Jonesboro, and the Clayton County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, according to a written statement from the visitor's bureau.

The annual event takes its name from the fact that participating local restaurants bring samples of their food to hand out to people attending the event.

Convention and Visitor's Bureau President Patrick Duncan said, although the tourism group is now taking the lead in planning the event, it will remain solely a fund-raiser for Historical Jonesboro.

"The [convention and visitor's bureau] wanted to be a partner in this event, because we want to help build this as a signature event in Clayton County," Duncan said. "The proceeds of this event are passed along to help with historic preservation in Clayton County. History is a big part of our tourism promotional effort, and the economic impact of tourism is a vital part of our economy in Clayton County."

The new, and revamped "Taste of Clayton" is scheduled to take place on April 9, from 11 a.m., to 3 p.m., on Main Street, in Jonesboro.

Taste of Clayton has not been held since June 2009, according to Historical Jonesboro President Barbara Emert. She said economic concerns, and rain on the day of the event every year in June, led the group to halt the festival after a 17-year run.

Originally, there was talk that it might get held in the fall, but Historical Jonesboro's schedule got too full to make that happen, and it got put off indefinitely, Emert said.

Then came whisperings throughout the fall and early winter, that a partnership between Historical Jonesboro and the Clayton County Convention and Visitor's Bureau was in the works, but officials declined for months to officially confirm the news.

"I missed it last year, myself," said Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox. Emert, Maddox and Duncan said the event's now official return is big news for the county. "It's a great way to enhance neighborhood cohesiveness," Maddox said. "I'm really excited about it's return. It's going to be a nice little festival."

Emert added: "I'm just very thankful that the City of Jonesboro and the Clayton County Convention and Visitor's Bureau have stepped up to help organize it. I think it can become a community event now, whereas before it was sort of an evening event where adults came and mixed and mingled, and socialized with their friends."

Emert also said this will be the first time "Taste of Clayton" will not have been held at Historical Jonesboro's Stately Oaks Plantation.

Maddox said it will be the first public event held on Main Street after downtown gets a new facelift, through Jonesboro's Streetscape project. "I think it will be great," he said. "We'll be needing to show off our new downtown, and this will be a great way for us to start."

Emert said Historical Jonesboro has been wanting to move "Taste of Clayton" to downtown Jonesboro for several years, so there would be more space for it. But, she said, the logistics of moving the event off the Stately Oaks property, such as getting permits and planning for security, made it difficult to plan the event without additional help.

This year, there will also be a new children's play area, run by Jonesboro First United Methodist Church, as well as entertainment provided by Jonesboro-based Real 2 Reel Studios, and information booths for community organizations and agencies, according to the convention and visitor's bureau.

The bureau also announced that there will be a new contest -- a "Sweet Tea Challenge" -- this year. Restaurants, community groups, churches, and individuals can compete to see who makes the best tea in the categories of "Best Commercial Sweet Tea," "Best Individual Sweet Tea," "Best Flavored Sweet Tea," and "Best Unsweetened Tea."

The tea will be judged by "local celebrities," according to the convention and visitor's bureau. Admission for "Taste of Clayton" will be $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens over the age of 55, and $5 for children under 10. For more information, including where tickets will be available, call (770) 478-4800.