Over 1,200 people packed into the Festival of Arts grounds on Thursday, Oct. 3, for the annual Taste of Laguna, hosted this year by the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and KX 93.5.
More than 30 local restaurants and chefs showcased their recipes and menu items, and the festival stage featured cover bands spanning four decades: 60s music by Woody & the Longobards, 70s music by Polyester Expresss, 80s music by Flashback Heart Attack, and 90s music by SEGA Genecide.
Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold, executive director of the chamber of commerce, said planning for the event began eight months ago, with a focus this year on showcasing each restaurant and vendor, and making it an evening for locals.
“We wanted to bring our community together and show them a good time,” Hornbuckle-Arnold said, adding that she received 99.9 percent positive feedback from attendees.
Hornbuckle-Arnold said it was Tyler McCusker, founder and general manager of KX 93.5, who first proposed that the two nonprofits join forces to host the event this year. As a result, Hornbuckle-Arnold said they were able to raise more funds this year than they budgeted for.
“I thought it was fantastic. From my perspective as both a past attendee and volunteer at the Taste, this year was just the best ever,” McCusker said. “I mean, how often do we see Lagunans of all ages dancing at fundraisers until the very end of the very last song?”
McCusker said their goal was to make the music more of a focal point than an afterthought, and he feels they achieved that.
“More importantly, we hope other nonprofits will follow our lead and partner on fundraising events,” McCusker said. “We believe we raised more money together than we would have with two separate events, we got to divide some of the workload, and we gave locals one mega-event to buy a ticket for, rather than making them choose.”
2019 Taste of Laguna Awards
People’s Choice Award:
The Lost Pier Café at The Ranch at Laguna Beach