It’s somewhat apt that the 25th Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival is returning to its roots.
The Festival Green at Camana Bay hosts the culinary event, something that Jane van der Bol of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association is happy about.
“We’re excited to see Taste of Cayman return to a field for the commemoration of the festival’s 25th anniversary,” she says. “We all know it began in a field and this is a great way to pay homage to the event’s grass roots beginnings.”
Which is a nice pun, too, isn’t it.
Ken Hydes of Camana Bay explains that the new site – with multiple entry points – will speed up the entry process as well as giving more space for the event to take place and people to interact. And because the takedown is not on the actual streets of the town, there are benefits there, too.
“We have put a lot of infrastructure on site; the access road, lawn and power will make it much easier for everyone and help the association, too, as the site is secure. There’s one way on, one way off, which is another plus.
“It will be fantastic with the backdrop of the town centre, which is a lovely view to have and people can come by boat, too. It has all the benefits with increased functionality.”
The continuing relationship between Camana Bay and the event is one which is valued by both sides, he continues.
“It is incredibly important that we continue to support CITA, which is the association that is helping to define and refine our tourism product, which is a big part of what we are trying to do.
“Camana Bay continues to grow as a culinary destination with a number of world-class restaurants. This event helps us as 5,000 people walk through the property and re-engage with the town centre. Plus, we just love a good party,” Ken smiles.
Taste began in the late 1980s with a small number of restaurants affiliated to the then Cayman Islands Restaurant Association. These days, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association runs it as its biggest fundraiser and expects around 5,000 people all entering into the festivities, explains CITA president Harry Lalli.
“Taste of Cayman is an area where we get to showcase our restaurant sections and people get to try out their food. The restaurants get to promote themselves and get people to come back to see them after the festival. It works really well, which is why we have so many restaurants at Taste.
“It has become a great social event; a lot of families come out to mingle. Putting it back in the field for the 25th anniversary is kinda neat, too.” The event raises money for the nonprofit organisation to continue operations.
“We do not get any grants from government or anything else, so our funds come from things like Taste of Cayman and membership fees otherwise the office could not run.
“The association represents more than 200 tourism businesses. We go out and lobby with government for change of laws, things that our industry needs as our membership tells us; things like key employees or issues we take to government and there’s also different media we work with like our own app. If people are involved they can take advantage of our different destination promotions – there is always something going on to increase business to our members,” he says.
Tourism, Harry feels, touches everyone on the Islands.
“Whether a guy getting off the plane for a vacation or someone going to a hedge fund meeting, they are still tourists as they still need to stay somewhere, still need to eat and that’s where restaurants come in.”
There are, of course, great reasons behind the event but mostly what people are interested in is coming down for a great time, some awesome eats and some excellent drinks, too.