December 6, 2021

Taste of Downtown draws big crowds

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Patrick Natale, right, of Frosted, hands out pastry samples Saturday to Sue Soule, left, and her daughter Kristina Welsh, of Cortland, during Taste of Downtown, held in Cortland.

People walking along Main Street on Saturday afternoon could not avoid the smell of food or the chance to visit a business they may not have been in before.

The 11th annual Taste of Downtown, which brought together 23 bars, restaurants and the occasional outside vendor to Main Street from establishments on Main, Court and Port Watson streets and Central and Groton avenues.

Emma Baudendistel of Binghamton liked the buffalo mac and cheese from Yankee Noodle, paired with a few sips of Cortland Beer Co.’s vodka lemonade. Her friend, Allie Chorley of Cortland, liked the chicken sandwich from Bayou Chicken. Nick Dalrymple of Cortland sampled the sunny day.

“The weather’s been a blessing too,” Dalrymple said. “It’s been great.”

It was Chorley and Baudendistel’s first time at this event; Dalrymple has attended before.

Cindy Gui, a member of the promotions committee for event sponsor Cortland Downtown Partnership, estimated more than 500 people took part, based on the number of tickets sold beforehand. Food was not the only thing people could enjoy. Live music, a juggler and stilt walker duo, a caricature artist and a tarot card reader filled downtown.

“We always try to put entertainment on to create a carnival atmosphere,” Gui said.

Patty Duff, an employee of the RiLi Bubble Tea & Lounge, offered peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie dough in the lounge’s third year as part of the event, which Duff said gets more people aware of the business.

“No place else in town has cookie dough and bubble tea,” Duff said.

Val Shank, the co-owner of Finger Lakes Tasting Room, served white and red sangria. The tasting room has been in Taste of Downtown for the past three years, serving up the sangria and 10 microbrews.

“It’s been crazy in here trying to get everyone serviced,” Shank said.

Taylor Trenchard, head brewer for Cortland Beer Co., offered Firehouse Pale Ale, root beer from Syracuse and its new vodka.

Cortland Brewing Co. has been part of Taste of Downtown for five years. The number of visitors is about the same, but the foot traffic increases, Trenchard said.

“A lot of people don’t know we have vodka, so this allows people to see how we’re growing,” Trenchard said. “People don’t know the amount of open space we have, too.”