Taste of Buffalo set to kick off

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The iconic Taste of Buffalo opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. It’s the 36th edition of the event. Fifty-five restaurants will be participating this year, including nine new ones.

“I’m ready to go,” said Taste of Buffalo chairman Matt Testa.

Here’s what you need to know before you go: ticket prices have increased from 50 cents to $1. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying more, as the number of tickets required to purchase many menu items have dropped. Also new this year, each tent will have a uniform sign to tell you what is on the menu.

“You’ll know exactly where it is,” Testa said. “It’s going to be the same on every tent instead of each restaurant choosing where they want to place it. This way, you know exactly where to look.”

One of the restaurants participating is Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill. They’ll be set up right in front of their Delaware Ave. location. The event is more than fun and games for them. It’s also a business opportunity.

“Sometimes people don’t realize, because we are a sports bar, what you really get when you come to Sidelines,” said owner Hillary Collura. “When you introduce a good product and they enjoy their food, you create great relationships with these people.

“They love it and they keep coming back.”

There will be a Kids Zone set up in Niagara Square. It will include a teddy bear hospital operated by WellNow Urgent Care.

For the adults, there will be six wineries and five beer tents. Labatt’s is brewing a special hefeweizen just for the weekend. It won’t be tapped until Saturday.

“It pairs well with a wide variety of foods so it’s perfect for an event like this,” said Lauren Christopher of Labatt USA.

Shaun O’Neale, the winner of season seven of Master Chef will perform on the culinary stage at noon on Saturday and Sunday. He’s been on the road for about 400 of the last 750 days.

“I’m excited to see what Buffalo has to offer,” O’Neale said. “I think you’re getting away from the beef on weck and the hot wings, which are classics and traditional. But there’s so much here now.”

The festival will close at 9 p.m. Saturday, and reopens at 11 a.m. Sunday before shutting down for good at 7 that night.

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