WATERVILLE — The 20th annual Taste of Greater Waterville was a huge success, organizers said Thursday.

Wednesday’s event drew thousands of people to Main Street and The Concourse parking lot downtown for an Eddie Money concert, outdoor dining, dancing, gymnasts, singers and vendors selling everything from jewelry to gourmet fudge.

“We’re pleased — very pleased — with the community support,” said Kimberly Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event. “I think the restaurants and everyone who participated are very pleased. We’re very excited about it.”

Lindlof said attendance looked double of last year’s event, though she didn’t have crowd estimates.

Police Chief Joseph Massey said Thursday that police were prepared for the event. Some disorderly people were asked to leave, but no major problems occurred.

“We made no arrests, so I’m very pleased,” Massey said. “I really appreciate the fact that people who attended the party were so well-behaved. I think it’s certainly telling of the people in this community and it also contributed to a fun night for everybody.”

A tired but happy Lindlof said Thursday that shuttles were busy Wednesday busing motorists from parking lots in Winslow and around Waterville to downtown, as most of The Concourse was blocked off to traffic.

She said “droves of people” were coming across the Two Cent Bridge, the historic pedestrian bridge spanning the Kennebec River from Winslow to the city.

Repairs to the bridge, at Head of Falls, were completed Tuesday, just in time to open for heavy foot traffic.

The Concourse was cordoned off in large blocks for those who bought $25 tickets to sit in front of the stage for the Eddie Money concert, those who paid $5 for standing room only and for a beer garden designed to accommodate 3,000 people.

Lindlof said nearly 500 people bought tickets for seats close to the stage and hundreds were in the standing-room-only space.

“There were thousands in the beer tent,” she said.

Nonpaying concert-goers also lined the fence around the stage, which afforded decent views of Money and his entourage. Money’s voice carried across The Concourse to Main Street and the riverfront.

Lindlof said it will be up to the chamber committee to decide whether a concert will be scheduled for next year’s Taste.

“We’re still getting bills in — marketing bills — and we need to look at the numbers,” she said. “We need to talk to the city, safety officers, (emergency medical services) people, the police officers, the city’s Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments, to get their feedback on it.”

She said chamber officials will talk with vendors and people at restaurants and other downtown businesses to solicit comments.

“Anecdotally, people who did very well have been calling us today and giving us kudos and praise,” she said. “Selah Tea Cafe told Shannon (Haines, executive director of Waterville Main Street) that Wednesday was the best day they ever had. The restaurants really benefited from it, from the feedback we’ve gotten so far.”

Streets and parking lots that were littered with cups and paper products late Wednesday were, by early Thursday morning, immaculate.

Lindlof credited the chamber’s 100 volunteers, as well as parks and recreation workers and public works employees with the quick and complete cleanup.

“A huge amount of credit goes to public works and parks and rec,” she said. “They are incredible. I only have great things to say about them. I think the event went off without a hitch.”

She said local and state police, Kennebec County sheriff’s officials, firefighters and Delta Ambulance workers also did a great job.

“They were right on top of things,” she said. “Safety was number one with them. Thank goodness, because they know their jobs and they thought of things that didn’t even cross our minds. They were very prepared.”

Massey said Money announced at the end of the concert that he would sign autographs and have his picture taken with fans, promising not to leave anyone out.

“He did, to the very last person,” Massey said. “That was pretty nice of him.”

After Money signed autographs for about 40 minutes, The Concourse emptied out, according to Massey.

“Within about 15 minutes, it was almost like a ghost town,” he said.

 

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