MYSTIC — There won’t be a Taste of Mystic this year, but there may be a similar event held by the Downtown Mystic Merchants.
Traditionally held in September, the annual event had been organized by the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce. But in a recent news release announcing the dates for its upcoming events, the chamber stated it would not sponsor the event in 2014.
Mystic’s merchants are exploring the possibility of holding the event and are investigating how it should be organized. If they are successful, it would still be held on the same September weekend but under a different name — the chamber has rights to “Taste of Mystic.”
“We’re looking into it,” said Rod Desmarais, a board member of the downtown merchants, a nonprofit organization representing shop owners on East and West Main streets. He is also the owner of Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream. “We have spoken to the chamber and they have been helpful in telling us what goes into it.”
Chamber President Tricia Walsh said the decision not to stage the event was difficult.
“We recognize that the Taste of Mystic is a much-loved community event, and we are disappointed that logistical circumstances beyond our control have resulted in the inability to produce the event this year,” she said. “However, we continue to look for opportunities to host events and programs which are beneficial to our members and the community.”
“We love the event, but there were several factors that weighed in on the decision,” explained Jim Bates, chairman of the chamber board of directors. “First, there was the weather, which at times has been a problem, and there’s a cost associated with that.”
He also said that participation was becoming a problem. The number of restaurants had dwindled a little over the last few years; furthermore, restaurants were having difficulty staffing the event in September, when many summer employees have left.
In addition, space for the beer and wine tent and entertainment is no longer available at Seaport Marine; it is currently in use by a tenant.
“John Holstein of Seaport Marine has always been one of our biggest supporters, and we are grateful for all the work he has done, but there are no other options in the immediate area,” Bates said.
But not to fear: The chamber plans to revisit the issue, and according to Bates, will bring back a Taste of Mystic should circumstances allow. In the meantime, the chamber plans to boost merchants in other ways. A new cocktail reception is being planned to kick off the August Mystic Outdoor Art Festival, and the chamber will play a stronger role at the Groton Fall Festival in October.
As for 2014, it’s too early to tell if the event will be held with a different name, but the Downtown Mystic Merchants are trying to rally interest and support.
“It would probably be made up of restaurants just in the downtown area,” Desmarais said. “This would make it simpler, but would better reflect the restaurants that are in Mystic.”
Those wanting to help should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce schedule of events is as follows: May 9, Fusion; Aug. 9, Mystic Outdoor Art Festival Cocktail Party; Aug. 9-10, Mystic Outdoor Art Festival; Oct. 11, Groton Fall Festival; Nov. 29, Santa Arrives by Tugboat & Lighted Holiday Boat Parade; and Dec. 6, Groton Lights Parade and Tree Lighting.