First Taste of Oregon is set to return later this month with expanded operations at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center.
The food and drink event, held Jan. 27-28, celebrates Oregon winemakers, brewers, spirit distillers, chefs, artists and commercial vendors. Patrons can peruse 150 booths plus enjoy live entertainment, pop-up bars and on-site concessionaire foods, now held at the Jackman-Long Building.
In 2022, the event was scheduled to be held in January but was pushed back to April due to a COVID-spike. This year, producer Jill Ingalls said she’s excited for the event to return to its normal date and be “bigger and better.”
“First Taste is a huge collection of lifestyle products,” Ingalls said. “Shopping, art, different culinary treats and foods. It’s a ‘go experience all sorts of different things’ event.”
Additions include having concessionaire foods on-site, which are full meals and not fair food. Bo & Vine Burger Bar, Gepetto’s and eight other restaurants will be serving food. Gilgamesh Brewing will also be offering food and brews.
The first 500 patrons through the door on Friday will receive a free wine glass. The event has 26 wineries and 22 distillers, plus a couple cideries and even a meadery.
Unlike other food and drink events, all vendors are independent. This means there are no redeeming food/drink with tokens, and taste testing is priced independently by each vendor. Tastings for food and drink will vary by price, from as low as 50 cents to $1.
Prior to the event, there is a wine judging competition and patrons will be able to try the winners.
For those coming from outside the Salem-Keizer area, the event is introducing a free shuttle service from host hotel The Best Western Premier Keizer/Salem Hotel (5188 Wittenberg Lane NE, Keizer). The host hotel is just 10 minutes from the fairgrounds, and the shuttle will run to and from continuously throughout the duration of the event. To reserve a room, call the hotel at 503-390-4733 and ask for the “First Taste Room Block.”
Door prices for First Taste general admission are $12, senior, military and first responder are $8 and Friday VIP is $37.
Originally the Oregon Wine and Food Festival, the event was turned over in 2017 to new ownership to be what is now First Taste of Oregon. The festival has happened for 36 years, but nine years as First Taste.
More info and tickets are available online at firsttasteoregon.com.
Address: 2330 NE 17th St., Salem – Jackman-Long Building