by Jim Boyle
Members of the Elk River Rotary are making final preparations for the eighth annual Taste of Elk River set for 5-9 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Sherburne County Fairgrounds.
Club members expressed excitement this week over the new location, new musical entertainment, plans for another karaoke contest and another stellar lineup of food, beer, wine and spirit samples from more than 20 vendors.
Among the new food vendors are Pour Wine & Bistro, Cowboy Jacks, Buffalo Wild Wings and Boondox Bar & Grille
Returning vendors include: Coborns, Cub Foods, Culvers of Elk River, Elk River Golf Club, Holiday Inn & Wild Woods Waterpark, Olde Main Eatery, Pompeii Pizza, Rockwoods Grill & Backwater Bar, The Friendly Buffalo, Cold Stone Creamery, D. Michael B’s, Target Deli, Walmart and Denny’s.
Panther Distillery out of Osakis will join a host of returning beer, wine and spirits vendors.
There’s another 10 beer, wine and spirits vendors to wash everything down.
The fairgrounds offers more space, more – and closer – parking and covered buildings to shield guests from the elements if needed.
The club’s annual fundraiser and community reunion raises money for local and international projects. Past projects completed by the Rotary include the restoration of the Handke Stadium, a trailhead in downtown Elk River that will someday connect Elk River with Anoka, and a freezer at the Community Aid Elk River, the local foodshelf known as CAER. The Elk River Rotary has been working with Elk River High School seniors who are in danger of not graduating through the Students Taking Renewed Interest in the Value of Education program. One its core efforts is strengthening youth of all ages and abilities.
One of this year’s musical acts is also in the fundraising mood, as he has offered up a private, three-hour private party corporate event concert for the highest bidder in the event’s silent auction.
For the Taste of Elk River, Chuck Skajewski will partner with percussionist Mikey Kovar.
“He brings out a driving beat,” Skajewski said. “You are going to love what he adds.”
Skajewski will play on one stage from 5 to 7 p.m., while Jared Schreifels will play concertina on another at the same time.
Skajewski frequently plays in Maple Grove at Sawatdee in Maple Grove and has played for Elk River area crowds before with his band Then and Now at local establishments and events like the benefit for Elk River Rotarian Alan Sakry. He will also be playing May 15 at ArtSoup this summer in downtown Elk River.
This 1972 Anoka High School graduate traded in his steel guitar as a youth in favor or an acoustic guitar and has never looked back. Even after he lost four of his fingers at a factory job in Anoka as a young man, his passion for playing music never escaped him. He said he realizes some may have given up on guitar playing.
“I never let it bother me,” Skajewski said.
A graphic designer by trade, whose passions also include relief wood carving and cooking, says music does something to people.
“I believe music has a way of taking people to a place where life was a lot less stressful,” he said. “Music does something that words can’t. It’s a universal language.”
Food and drink at the Taste helps bring people together for it.
A new activity at the Taste will be a photo booth by Photo Booth A Go Go,
This signature sponsor is Fairview Northland Medical Center in Princeton and the Elk River Fairview Clinic. The platinum sponsor is Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. There are 13 sponsors helping make the event possible.
Tickets are $25 now, or $30 at the door, and that covers everything a guest can eat and drink as well as the entertainment.
They are also available online at www.elkrivermnrotary.org. The Taste of Elk River also has a Facebook page.