By Ben Olson
There’s one thing both visitors and Sandpoint locals can always agree on: our restaurants are top notch. There is no better — or cheaper — way to taste morsels from a variety of Sandpoint’s premier eateries than attending the annual Summer Sampler from 5-8 p.m., Thursday, June 30 at Farmin Park.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the popular event, which doubles as a fundraiser for the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. Litehouse Foods also partners as a sponsor for this event.
The event is free to attend, but ticket bundles will be on sale at the gate. Each ticket represents $1, and tickets can be used to “purchase” samples from each of the 10 participating restaurants.
“This is a great fundraiser for the Chamber,” said Membership Specialist Keely Gray-Heki. “At the end of the night, we’ll cash out all the tickets and each restaurant generously splits it with the Chamber. We raise funds for the Chamber and also make some dough for our amazing local restaurants.”
As a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, which is unable to apply for grants like 501(c)(3) organizations can, events like the Summer Sampler, the upcoming BeerFest on Saturday, July 9 and others are the Chamber’s main source of funding.
Participating in the Summer Sampler this year will be: Breakfast Cantina, Farmhouse BBQ, Ivano’s Catering, Local 41, MickDuff’s Brewing Co., Panhandle Cone and Coffee, Pend d’Oreille Winery, Sweet Lou’s and Trinity at City Beach.
Each will feature bite-size portions for attendees to enjoy, either from their regular menus or as a special. Wine and beer will also be available for purchase and the good times are always free.
“Events like the Summer Sampler help people remember what we have to offer here in Sandpoint,” Gray-Heki told the Reader. “When it comes to food, we are very lucky. One of the things I always tell visitors when they come to town is, ‘You can’t go wrong with the food in Sandpoint. You won’t be disappointed wherever you go.’”
New this year is the partnership between the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce and Mattox Farm Productions, which is kicking off their Sandpoint Summer Music Series in tandem with the Summer Sampler (see story on Page 21). There will be live music from Oregon-based band Cedar Teeth playing a free live show starting at 6 p.m.
“I always appreciate the camaraderie we experience with our restaurants at the Summer Sampler,” Gray-Heki said. “They’re so great at supporting each other. Right now, it’s really good to remember we are a community despite all the crap that’s going on. We are a community and we need to take care of each other.”
Those interested in the Summer Sampler might want to mark their calendars for the companion event, the ninth annual BeerFest on Saturday, July 9 at the Sandpoint City Beach. Hailed as the annual “beer bash on the beach,” this year’s theme will be “Tiki,” which will also feature 20-ounce cups that come with ticket purchases. Early bird tickets are available for $50 on the Chamber’s website, or search “Sandpoint BeerFest” on beerfest.com to find the link.
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