MARQUEE - Find your appetite at Feast Walla Walla

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Feast lives up to its name for Edie Paden (blue) and Meagan Allen (red top behind her) as they sample wines from huge glasses during the afternoon event downtown. The two, who both work at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center, said they ran out of food at their booth early and event organizers ran out of glasses so they decided to use decor from their booth to taste wines and as a chance to talk to participants about the hotel.

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In the middle of hand-labeling bottles of his new dessert wine, Court Ruppenthal enjoys a few sips of his "Winter Warmer" beer from the other side of his production facility at Laht Neppur. After making beer for many years and selling it at his facility in Waitsburg for more than two-years, Ruppenthal is releasing his first wines this weekend as part of winter barrel tasting.

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As businesses break-down their displays from this year's Feast of Walla Walla, Jeff Baker, from Seattle, laughs with family and friends over half-full glasses of wine at a table. Wine and food flowed throughout the afternoon proving that despite a downturn in economics, the glass may still be half full.

Watch a video preview of Feast Walla Walla 2010 after the story.

Call it the carnival of consumption. Soiree of sustenance. The gala of goodies.

Any way you slice it, the third annual Feast Walla Walla will offer more bite this year.

The April 10 event will host its largest number of vendors yet with 50 eateries and wineries already on board, said Jennifer Northam, events and public relations manager for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.

"We’re going to be so packed in that tent," Northam said. "I can hardly wait."

She said the number of restaurants and eateries has increased this year as the event has grown into a staple kickoff of the tourism season. Among the new participants this year are Creektown Cafe, The Green Lantern, Olive Marketplace & Cafe, Someone’s in the Kitchen and the Walla Walla Bread Co.

Michael Kline, owner of the Walla Walla Bread Co., said the business will likely be partnering at the event with a local entrepreneur who plans to open a cupcake and wedding cake business. The cupcakes will be available for tasting. Some of his business’s breads may also be on display to tantalize participants who may want to shoot up the block for more of Kline’s baked goods.

"We weren’t sure how easily our products would translate," Kline said, adding that he didn’t want to miss the opportunity for more business exposure. "I think it’s a good community event, and it’s close to our own location."

Exposure is also an attraction for Kim Kelly-Frank, owner of CrossRoads Steakhouse & Catering, located at Veterans Memorial Golf Course.

"Because we are up on the hill, one mile from downtown and not a location people just happen to drive by, it made perfect sense to have a venue to showcase and bring attention to (the restaurant)," she said in an e-mail.

"Getting to meet people face-to-face, showcase two or three items and build relationships is what attracted me."

She said CrossRoads will feature boeuf bourguignon and a flatiron steak with bleu cheese atop a grilled baguette.

Participants buy a $45 ticket, which they exchange for 10 tokens. The tokens can be used at any eatery or winery in exchange for samples.

Vendors converge under a 200-by-40-foot tent set up to span First Avenue between Main and Alder streets. They are also entertained with live music and local art.

At the end of the three-hour event, vendors return the tokens to the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation for a cash payout.

Feast Walla Walla is also an opportunity for ticket-holders to purchase bottles of wine. That part is a signature fundraiser for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, which buys cases of wines from the wineries at wholesale prices. The bottles are sold for retail values. The revenue, after costs, goes toward the foundation’s general operating fund.

The event promises a fun mix of flavor, including an infusion of hard cider from the Blue Mountain Cider Co. and beer from Waitsburg’s Laht Neppur Brewing Co.

Those who really want to be tantalized can get a taste from Walla Walla House of Prime, a new steakhouse that’s reportedly in the works for downtown.

Call it the carnival of consumption. Soiree of sustenance. The gala of goodies.

Any way you slice it, the third annual Feast Walla Walla will offer more bite this year.

The April 10 event will host its largest number of vendors yet with 50 eateries and wineries already on board, said Jennifer Northam, events and public relations manager for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.

"We’re going to be so packed in that tent," Northam said. "I can hardly wait."

She said the number of restaurants and eateries has increased this year as the event has grown into a staple kickoff of the tourism season. Among the new participants this year are Creektown Cafe, The Green Lantern, Olive Marketplace & Cafe, Someone’s in the Kitchen and the Walla Walla Bread Co.

Michael Kline, owner of the Walla Walla Bread Co., said the business will likely be partnering at the event with a local entrepreneur who plans to open a cupcake and wedding cake business. The cupcakes will be available for tasting. Some of his business’s breads may also be on display to tantalize participants who may want to shoot up the block for more of Kline’s baked goods.

"We weren’t sure how easily our products would translate," Kline said, adding that he didn’t want to miss the opportunity for more business exposure. "I think it’s a good community event, and it’s close to our own location."

Exposure is also an attraction for Kim Kelly-Frank, owner of CrossRoads Steakhouse & Catering, located at Veterans Memorial Golf Course.

"Because we are up on the hill, one mile from downtown and not a location people just happen to drive by, it made perfect sense to have a venue to showcase and bring attention to (the restaurant)," she said in an e-mail.

"Getting to meet people face-to-face, showcase two or three items and build relationships is what attracted me."

She said CrossRoads will feature boeuf bourguignon and a flatiron steak with bleu cheese atop a grilled baguette.

Participants buy a $45 ticket, which they exchange for 10 tokens. The tokens can be used at any eatery or winery in exchange for samples.

Vendors converge under a 200-by-40-foot tent set up to span First Avenue between Main and Alder streets. They are also entertained with live music and local art.

At the end of the three-hour event, vendors return the tokens to the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation for a cash payout.

Feast Walla Walla is also an opportunity for ticket-holders to purchase bottles of wine. That part is a signature fundraiser for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, which buys cases of wines from the wineries at wholesale prices. The bottles are sold for retail values. The revenue, after costs, goes toward the foundation’s general operating fund.

The event promises a fun mix of flavor, including an infusion of hard cider from the Blue Mountain Cider Co. and beer from Waitsburg’s Laht Neppur Brewing Co.

Those who really want to be tantalized can get a taste from Walla Walla House of Prime, a new steakhouse that’s reportedly in the works for downtown.

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