Last Saturday, things were not looking good for the third annual "Taste of Great Falls." The event was scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9, and the torrential downpour that had started Friday showed no sign of stopping.
"We were kind of scared there for a while because we didn't know when it would stop," said Terry Graves, a member of the Great Falls Business Professional Association (BPA), and the main organizer of the event.
Fortunately, the rain did stop Saturday evening, enabling this year's Taste of Great Falls to go off without a hitch. However, that did not change the fact that most of the event's setup had to take place under very wet conditions.
"Two thirds of this was put up in the rain," said Graves' wife, Chris Graves, last Sunday.
The Taste of Great Falls is held every year in the Village Centre and is sponsored by the Great Falls BPA. According to Terry Graves, this is the first year that all 15 of the community's local restaurants participated in the event, and he says he is particularly grateful for their neighborly spirit and support.
"The commitment of the restaurants is incredible because most of them are open on Sunday and this [event] is such a time commitment and a financial commitment," said Graves. "All these restaurants are privately owned and operated and they all do a wonderful job."
Graves helped start The Taste of Great Falls three years ago through the BPA.
"It was talked about for a number of years, and we finally stopped talking about it and did it ... we mad-scrambled, but it's evolved and we've been learning as we go and having a great time," said Graves.
GREAT FALLS RESIDENT Heather Stark and her family have been coming every year, and that she is a fan of the fall atmosphere of the event.
"It's fantastic. I love the decorations — the bales of hay, the mums, the corn — it has a very Oktoberfest feel," said Stark.
"The food gets better every year," said local resident Richard Kelly.
This year's chili cook-off awarded two first place prizes — the "People's Choice" and the "Judges' Choice." The Great Falls Ecumenical Council earned first place with the judges, and the Great Falls Newcomers won first place with the People's Choice.
"It's an uncle's recipe from years and years ago," said Marcia Nicolai, the chili cook for the Great Falls Ecumenical Council. "It's spicy and it's all meat and no beans."
Monica Neshat, DDS, who works in Ralph Lazaro's dental office in Great Falls, helped chili cook-off organizer Lynne Simmons.
"I just joined the Great Falls BPA and I've organized events my whole life and they said they needed help with the chili cook-off, so I volunteered," said Neshat. "I love how the community came together and helped each other."
Great Falls residents Doug Losselwong and Barbara Losselwong came to the event for the first time this year, and brought their dog along with them.
"It's fun," said Barbara Losselwong. "It's so neighborly."