Taste of the Ridge Makes Epic Comeback This Year
by James Coulter
Located at the intersection of US 92, Maple Street, and Manatee Avenue in Downtown Davenport is The Hotel. This historic hotel is currently home to Cooters n Smoke, a local barbecue team whose barbecue has won countless awards from local competitions, including Ribs on the Ridge in Haines City. Currently, Cooters n Smoke is fourth in the state for the Florida Barbecue Association on the proffesional division.
Their award-winning barbecue was served at Taste of the Ridge last Friday in Haines City. While Daniel and Samantha Summerlin-Tomlinso, the power couple behind the barbecue, were unable to attend that evening, as they were attending a barbecue competition. Their daughter served their award-winning pulled pork, chicken, and yeast rolls in their place.
“We love doing this event,” she said. “It gives us a good outreach to the community…We love to see familiar faces and meet new people.”
Cooters n Smoke was one of many local establishments that attended the annual Taste of the Ridge on Friday evening. Nearly a dozen vendors, representing local resturaunts, eateries, and cooking teams, congregated inside the Lake Eva Event Center to share their best food with attendees. This year’s event served a diverse array of food options, ranging from tacos and nachos to pizza, sandwiches, and baked goods.
The Balmoral Clubhouse Bar and Grill offered meatballs, sandwiches, and soups from their menu. For Amanda Boutwell, Event Sales Manager, this was her first time attending the event to help promote Balmoral and its other amenities.
“We love seeing everyone come out to support our local community because that is that we do,” she said. “We thrive on local and we want to be everyone to come together as a family and a community.”
Taste of the Ridge is an annual fundraiser hosted by Haines City Rotary Club. It is the local non-profit organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, if not their most popular, explained Rotary President Steve Tiner.
Proceeds from the event go towards their scholarships program for scholarships for students at Haines City High School and Ridge Community High School. Haines City Rotary routinely assists many local non-profit organizations and causes within the area.
“I think it is awesome,” Tiner said. “A little disappointed we had some eateries back out at the end…but [otherwise], it is about us having a good time. We expect Rotary and these events to continue to grow.”