WATERVILLE — The thousands who attend Wednesday’s Taste of Waterville will notice an increased focus on green issues — but organizers don’t expect it to take away from the real focus: good times.

The festival that typically draws 5,000 to 10,000 people to downtown to eat, drink, socialize and be entertained kicks off at 11 a.m..

This year’s festival will have an increased focus on locally grown foods, sustainability and recycling, with donated help from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Huhtamaki.

“We’re ready,” said Kimberly Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event. “Our volunteers are mobilized, our staff is very excited about the event and we’re just praying that the weather holds out, as we do every year.”

Lindlof said, as part of the special focus this year, Johnny’s Selected Seeds of Winslow donated $400 worth of locally sourced food to both the Heritage House sit-down meal and Inland Hospital’s a la carte dining booth.

Composting and recycling will take place throughout the day.

Huhtamaki donated thousands of paper plates, bowls and other food containers used at the event, and all are biodegradable, according to Lindlof.

“It’s happening,” she said of sustainability efforts. “It’s really catching on, finally.”

The day starts at 11 a.m. on Appleton Street on the north end of The Concourse, where The Bite, or the festival’s fast food venue, offers pizza, French fries, popcorn, fudge and other treats. The street closes at 6 a.m. so organizers can begin setting up.

Children’s events, including a pony express, tiger slide, bounce house and inflatables, will open on The Concourse across the street from the rear entrance to Key Bank.

At noon, bands and singers will start performing on Appleton, followed by more music on Main Street starting at 4 p.m.

At 2 p.m., Main Street will close to traffic from Spring Street to Post Office Square to make way for music and entertainment, shopping, dining and socializing. A new event, a meatball-eating contest, will be held at 7:30 p.m. in front of Amici’s Cucina restaurant on Main Street.

Restaurants and other food vendors will offer street-side a la carte dining from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. along Main Street. Heritage House restaurant, of Skowhegan, will host a four-course, sit-down dinner starting at 6 p.m. on Common Street in an elegant setting of flowers, shrubbery, a fountain and special lighting created by Jeff Karter of Waterville Florist working with Sunset Flowerland & Greenhouses.

Eighty tickets were sold for the VIP dining event and the cutoff for ticket sales was Monday, according to Christian Savage, the chamber’s program director.

“We hope this year it’ll look as elegant as we want it to be and we’ll attract more attendees next year,” he said.

Dance, gymnastics and karate demonstrations will be held 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in front of City Hall at Castonguay Square. Curves will host a zumba demonstration at 6:30 p.m. there, according to Savage.

A beer garden will open on The Concourse across Main Street from Amici’s Cucina at 5 p.m. and continue until 11 p.m., with the band The Detour Project performing at the opening. The School Street Band with Laura Hudson will perform in the beer garden at 8 p.m.

There is plenty of parking for everyone coming into the city Wednesday, according to Savage.

In addition to downtown parking, there are 400 to 600 parking spaces at Head of Falls at the Kennebec River off Front Street, and parking attendants will be on hand to help people park and ensure the area is safe, he said. A shuttle also is available to ferry people from that parking lot to the corner of Temple and Main streets downtown. The distance from Head of Falls to Main Street is about 100 yards, Savage said.

A police officer will patrol the Taste and an officer will be stationed in the beer garden, he said

Per city ordinance, all activities must end at 11 p.m.

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