Taste of Manchester seeks volunteers

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Feb. 21, 2013
At a previous Taste of Manchester, Guests had a chance to sample pizza and pasta at Antonio's Pizza Restaurant on 832 Main St. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

The 4th Annual Taste of Manchester, to be held on May 14, may seem like a long way off. But for the volunteers that make this event possible, there is still much to do between now and then, and new volunteers are always welcome.

During the Taste of Manchester, ticket holders have a chance to sample the foods prepared by the many restaurants downtown Manchester has to offer. Limo buses will be available to transport guests to participating locations along Main Street and Hartford Road. Participating restaurants that are off the Main Street and Hartford Road route will have tables set up at the Army Navy Club. The event will end at the Army Navy Club with a raffle drawing.

Sharon Hebert co-chairs Taste of Manchester, along with Dennis Reinholt. She is also the volunteer coordinator. “We currently have 20 committee members who are handling all of the pre-work that needs to be done in advance of the event, but many more volunteers are needed to work the night of Taste of Manchester,” Hebert said. Last year, 80 volunteers worked the night of the event – even more are needed because they project to have more restaurants participating this year.

Volunteers are welcome for a variety of needs. One of the most important positions in the committee is that of the restaurant coordinator, who interacts with participating restaurants now through the event. Invitations have been sent to restaurants, and members of the Taste of Manchester committee will begin the process of working with those that are interested in participating.

Restaurant coordinators answer any questions the restaurant owners might have, offer assistance, and help the owner secure necessary permitting for the event. The restaurant coordinator stays in touch up to the night of the event, informing the owner as to how many tickets have been sold so that the owners can ensure that enough food will be prepared.

The restaurants themselves are active advertisers of the event, but committee members work hard to spread the word, as well. “Committee members also sign up to work with the local businesses in the design of the tickets, posters and - this year - a banner that will be hung on Main Street announcing the event,” said Hebert.

Web-savvy workers are needed to keep the committee's website, TasteOfManchesterCT.com, up and running and up to date. Communications-oriented volunteers publicize the event, and keep the media informed about updates.

“There's plenty of things to do,” said Danielle Ortwein, a restaurant coordinator for the Taste of Manchester. There are volunteer needs that can fit many different levels of availability. “Being a restaurant coordinator, you end up being more involved than most,” Ortwein said. “But there are other things, like helping the night of, just punching tickets or helping set up tables at the Army Navy Club.”

This is her third year volunteering for the event. As a local small business owner, she first got involved to expand her horizons and to network. She ended up enjoying herself very much, and inspired others to do the same. “My friends got involved with Taste because they saw how much fun I had volunteering,” she said.

Proceeds from the Taste of Manchester will benefit MDOG: Manchester Dog Owners Group, which is raising funds to complete the remaining section of the Manchester Dog Park.

Anyone who is interested in joining the Taste of Manchester committee or in volunteering the night of the event can e-mail tasteofmanchesterct@gmail.com.

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