22nd Annual Taste of Olean and 63rd Annual Art in the Park Bring Good Food and Fine Arts Together
This summer, there’s only one place to sample some of the area’s most mouthwatering menu items, check out awe-inspiring art and experience exceptional entertainment. It’s all happening at the 63rd Annual Art in the Park and the 22nd Annual Taste of Olean on Sunday, July 29 at Jamestown Community College’s Cattaraugus County Campus, 260 N. Union Street in Olean, NY.
“We usually anticipate between 15 and 20 food vendors,” said Meme Krahe Yanetsko, Chief Operating Officer at the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce.
Yanetsko expects a number of restaurants, including the Old Library, Tasta Pizza, and the Beef N’ Barrel, to reappear this year, as they have in the past.
“We tell the restaurants to participate so they can get new customers,” Yanetsko said. “I also tell them to try a new dish, to showcase their items and give a sampling. This isn’t a big money-maker for the restaurants, but it’s more giving back and we like to have it in the community.”
Mike McAfee, co-owner of the Beef N’ Barrel, said the restaurant tries to showcase one new menu item each year, but it continues to offer some of its well-known favorites.
“We have had years where we didn’t do something, like our apple pie or German potato salad, and found that people really want those items. Of course, we always have our beef on weck,” McAfee said. He added that the restaurant has appeared at the Taste every year except one, and he enjoys talking and meeting with people throughout the community.
“The Taste of Olean is a great event, no doubt,” McAfee added. “We’re part of the community, so to be there, it’s a good thing, and everyone likes seeing the three of us - my brother P.J. and my dad (Jim) working together. We’re looking forward to it.”
Yanetsko said at the Taste this year, visitors will have the opportunity to sample beer with their food.
“We used to have beer when the Taste of Olean was part of Farm and City Days. We want this to be a family atmosphere, but we thought we’d try it,” she said. “We’re also going to do a food drive for the Food Pantry. It’s tough to keep it supplied during the summer months, and it’s another way we can give back to the community.”
Art in the Park
Anyone attending the Taste of Olean will also enjoy entertainers and artists from towns throughout New York. Anne Conroy-Baiter, Executive Director at the Cattaraugus County Arts Council, said the council is “aiming for a wide variety of artists of different mediums and points in their careers.”
Keith McKale, a woodcarver from Ellicottville, is among Art in the Park’s returning artists. He said he’s been carving most of his life, and uses a variety of woods, including butternut and basswood, for his art.
“The inspiration and interest in woodcarving was my dad. He carved birds. I never got a chance to work with him, but he was my inspiration,” McKale said, noting that bird carvings are among one of his aspirations. “I’m starting to carve birds. That’s been my goal most of the time.”
For McKale, Art in the Park is “a great way to connect with the community, especially because it’s coupled with the Taste of Olean.”
“Of all the things I’ve done, that was one that was the most well-attended. The people are nice, and it was one of the better shows I did last year. I am looking forward to a repeat of last year. It was a great group of people, and I enjoyed meeting them,” he said.
Conroy-Baiter agreed. “I love the interaction between the community and the artists,” she said. “There's such a wealth of artist talent in this region, and Art in the Park remains one of the best ways we introduce a new audience to the arts.”
This year, the artists will be stationed on the JCC campus green, directly across from the Taste of Olean.
“The show will be juried by Thomas Paquette, an established artist from Warren, Pa., and Colin Shaffer, Assistant Curator at the JCC Weeks Gallery in Jamestown. We'll also feature free face painting and activities for kids,” Conroy-Baiter said.
For anyone who has yet to attend Art in the Park or the Taste of Olean, Conroy-Baiter and Yanetsko have some great advice: “Dress for the weather, bring some spending money because you never know what treasures you'll find,” Conroy-Baiter said. “And bring your kids!” Yanetsko added, “Bring your appetite, empty stomach, get a map and figure out what you want to test out. Then buy your tickets and enjoy. It’s a great family event.”