Taste of Omaha returns to the waterfront - Omaha.com
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DINING

Taste of Omaha returns to the waterfront
By Valerie Novotny
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


Click here to see a Taste of Omaha map of food and shopping vendors, as well as participating sponsors.

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Taste of Omaha heads back to its original home when the festival hits Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing this weekend.

TASTE OF OMAHA

What: Taste of Omaha, food from dozens of Omaha restaurants, wine and beer tasting, live music, culinary demonstrations and children's entertainment.

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing

Admission: Free. Ticket booths sell food-and-beverage tickets, 8 for $5.

Information:
www.tasteofomaha.info and 402-346-8003.

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MUSIC PERFORMANCES

Harbor Stage

Friday
-5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: The Brits, British Invasion-style music and classic rock
-8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Daryle Singletary, country.
In the late '90s, Singletary had popular hits on the country charts with “I Let Her Lie,” “Amen Kind of Love” and “Too Much Fun.” Singletary's released seven albums since 1995. His latest, “Rockin' in the Country,” features famous fiddler and singer Charlie Daniels.

Saturday
-1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Velvet Crush, classic rock and variety
-4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: ShurThing, party cover band
-8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Classic Rock Allstars — Steppenwolf, Blues Image, Iron Butterfly, Blue Oyster Cult, The Knack

Sunday
-1 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Cowboy Up, country
-5 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Front Ro, rhythm and blues

Shorty Vest Stage

Friday
-11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Rhythm Collective, reggae, ska, calypso and island party music
-2 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Kim Eames, acoustic and folk
-6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.: The Labels, '80s rock and party cover band

Saturday
-11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Blues Agent Band, classic rock and variety
-3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Bells & Whistles, country
-6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.: High Heel, rock and classic rock

Sunday
-11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Clockstoppers, classic rock and variety
-3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Soldiers of Soul, soul, jazz and pop

Rotella's Bakery River Stage

Friday
-6 p.m.: Taxi Driver, party cover band
-9 p.m.: Tim Halperin
A finalist on season 10 of “American Idol,” Halperin recently released his debut album, “Rise & Fall.” Halperin's an Omaha native and began playing piano at age 6. He's been writing original songs for a long time, some of which he performed on “Idol,” and has developed a fanbase in his home state as well as in Texas, where he went to college.

Saturday
-11 a.m.: Novi Nasi Tamburasi, Croatian-Serbian music
-1 p.m.: DonnyBrook, Irish music
-3 p.m.: Red Raven Polka, polka
-5 p.m.: Xiotal and Nayare Ballets Folklorico, Mexican cultural music, salsa and dancing demonstration
-6 p.m.: Las Vegas' Motown and R&B Tribute — The Spectrum
-7:30 p.m.: Grease Band, '50s, '60s rock 'n' roll classics
-9:30 p.m.: Las Vegas' Motown and R&B Tribute — The Spectrum

Sunday
-Noon: Ben Harris Jazz, jazz rhythm and blues
-2 p.m.: HiFi Hangover, classic rock
-4 p.m.: Jimmy Weber, acoustic and popular music
-6 p.m.: Christy Rossiter with 112 N Duck, blues
Blues and rock are this band's forte and the group is celebrating the release of its fifth album, “Gone Fishin'.” The album is the group's second with lead vocalist Christy Rossiter, who has been compared to Joss Stone and Bonnie Raitt.

World Tour Pavilion
Each hour on Friday and Saturday evenings: Flowpulse — A nationally recognized fire spinning team. Performance also includes fire eating and spinning effects.

The celebration of Omaha's culinary best was forced to relocate inland last year due to the rising Missouri River.

To celebrate its homecoming, this year's festival, from Friday through Sunday, looks to be more packed with eats and entertainment for the whole family.

Taste of Omaha started 15 years ago as a waterfront showcase featuring a few food options. Now it has more than 40 food booths with eclectic and ethnic food choices, from traditional American barbecue to Jamaican jerk chicken, Greek gyros to Spanish piquillo pepper.

“Omaha has such a rich ethnic history,” event producer Mike Mancuso said. “We wanted to reflect that. It's not typical festival food. This event is about cuisines and really good chefs preparing food you normally couldn't eat outside.”

Local and independent restaurants from all over the area will pitch tents around the waterfront and prepare fresh and hot food on the spot. Some of them, like Piccolo Pete's and Cascio's, are longtime Taste of Omaha patrons. Others will be firing up their grills for the first time.

One of those is Saigon Surface, a Vietnamese restaurant at 324 S. 14th St., which will be preparing some of its signature dishes.

“Since we are so new to the downtown area, we thought Taste of Omaha would give us a chance to get our name out there,” Saigon Surface manager Ngoc Nguyen said. “We want to expose the Midwest to our food.”

Nguyen said Saigon Surface will serve its popular egg rolls as well as bahn mi, a pork sandwich marinated in Vietnamese spices and sauces.

Mancuso said ethnic fusion food has become a bigger trend in Omaha and at the festival in recent years. A lot of restaurants are mixing their traditional cuisine with American-style presentation. Eateries such as Saigon Surface and Espańa are combining their homeland-style meats and placing them in buns or wraps.

He said that reflects the notion that Americans want flavorful foods but want to be more comfortable while eating them. This type of packaging will make walking through the festival while eating more convenient.

“This year's festival will be much better for everyone,” Mancuso said. “The layout makes for easier flow. The lighting is replaced, and the parks department just repainted Lewis & Clark Landing. Everything is new and improved.”

As well as showcasing a variety of metro-area restaurants, the festival will offer three stages of live music, cooking demonstrations on the J. Skinner Bakery Culinary Chef Stage and a variety of children's entertainment on the KidZone Stage.

Other attractions include amusement rides and activities in the Family Village, beer and wine gardens and a fire-spinning team performing nights in the World Tour Pavilion.


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