Taste of Atlanta canceled but Food That Rocks sister event returns to Sandy Springs

For safety measures, Food That Rocks will be held over three days in September

Two popular Atlanta food festivals will not take place for the second consecutive year, but organizers will bring back their Sandy Springs food tasting event for three days in September.

Food festival founder Dale DeSena recently announced Taste of Atlanta and Southern Wing Showdown would not return this year. The sister event, Food That Rocks, will take place Sept. 23-25 under an open air tent at City Springs. The event is produced by Taste of Atlanta and Visit Sandy Springs tourism agency.

Tickets are $80 to attend the event offering all-inclusive food and drink prepared by more than 18 local restaurants from 7-10 p.m. Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, or noon-3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Live musical performances are scheduled for each session.

Food That Rocks, which started in 2016 at Hammond Park, was traditionally a one-night event but it was revamped into a three-day festival for safety measures, DeSena said. It was canceled last year and only a certain number of tickets will be available each of the three days, she added.

Food That Rocks publicist Sharon Kraun said the change allows for people to be socially distant. Chefs, servers and volunteers will be masked under the open air tent and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the campus, organizers said.

“What we are looking at is these will be the VIP food experiences that we are known for,” DeSena said.

The Sandy Springs resident said she wouldn’t have been able to deliver on the same kind of quality experience for Taste of Atlanta or Southern Wing Showdown this year.

“(Atlanta) restaurants have just not been able to staff as they would want,” she said. “I don’t think people would want to be eating shoulder to shoulder.”

In addition, the Southern Wing Showdown event was problematic due to the shortage of chicken wings across the U.S., DeSena added.

Restaurant owners have suffered in Sandy Springs too, she noted. To address challenges faced by local restaurateurs, Taste of Atlanta and Visit Sandy Springs plan to host a forum with owners and general managers at 2 p.m. Aug. 25 at il Giallo restaurant. Mayor Rusty Paul, il Giallo owner Jamie Adams and Darryl Shular, chef and owner of the Shular Institute & Culinary School, will take part in the discussion, Kraun said.

“We felt like the Sandy Springs community should collaborate together to come up with creative ways to help each other survive,” DeSena said.

DeSena said she was on the co-founding team of Music Midtown in 1994 and launched Taste of Atlanta into its latest incarnation in 2001 to help promote restaurants.

“The restaurant and festival business has been beat down for a year and half,” she said. “We bring so much to the Atlanta community. Restaurant dining is the glue to your families and your friends.”

Visit foodthatrocks.org to purchase tickets.

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz