Weather doesn’t dampen Taste of South Routt in Oak Creek |

Weather doesn’t dampen Taste of South Routt in Oak Creek

Annual food festival highlights town's culinary tradition

Lawrence Jaconetta, owner of Lupita's Cantina, grills up some fish for a taco on Saturday at the Taste of South Routt in Oak Creek.
Joel Reichenberger

— The thunder that rolled through Oak Creek on Satur­day afternoon was at times hard to distinguish from the bass of the music that rocked Decker Park during the annual Taste of South Routt event.

The lightning, however, wasn't. It cracked through a gray sky that repeatedly dumped rain on the party while wind often whipped away anything not weighed down.

Still, the crowds came, gobbling up some of the best food the area has to offer.

That didn't surprise much of anyone.

"We've been doing festivals for years and years, and it doesn't matter," said Tony Benja­min, manning the Chelsea's tent for his son, the owner. "Whether it's sunny or not, if there's food, people will come. There aren't many places like Oak Creek. It's pretty special."

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Bands played throughout the afternoon. Adults sipped on beers, and children got their faces painted, sometimes to look like animals, sometimes to look just like kids with face paint. Through it all, South Routt gorged as the area's stunningly large restaurant industry put itself on display, dishing up plate after plate from tents in the park.

"That's Oak Creek's history," said John Grout, owner of the Oak Restaurant in Oak Creek.

He was serving up hamburgers and chicken from a grill.

"It's a great place to come," he said about the town. "People come all the way from Steam­boat to eat here. We thrive on the competition."

From burgers to curry, pulled pork to fish tacos, there was no shortage of choices for patrons Saturday.

New restaurants and old filled the stalls. Benjamin said Chelsea's has been represented at the event at least since his son bought the popular and recently reopened Chinese restaurant seven years ago.

Tanya Taing, meanwhile, was selling barbecue at the tent for Rachel's Smokin' Café. Rachel's has been represented at festivals in the past, but this was its first time there as an established restaurant in Oak Creek.

"It's going really good," said Taing, who lives in Oak Creek and helps out her mother, the owner and namesake of the barbecue café. "This is my fifth year, and it's great seeing everyone out.

"People know good food is here. Everyone has something different to offer."