Taste of Madison brings flavor in 40th year

Taste of Madison is back and better than ever.

MADISON, Wis. — Taste of Madison was back and better than ever on Sunday.

With 70 different restaurants on-site, with a massive variety, 26 bars and beverage stands all run by volunteer groups, and three massive stages with free performances from headline acts such as Daughtry and Yung Gravy, attendees got a taste of what Madison has to offer.

“We have food, we have music, we have drinks, we have the largest picnic in downtown Madison every labor day weekend,” Taste of Madison president Sarah Klemme said. “Taste of Madison is a celebration of everything that makes our city great”.

It’s hard for businesses to reach new customers, and its hard for customers to find a new restaurant. That’s what Taste of Madison is here for. “It is a big commitment sometimes to find a new restaurant, to see if you’re going to like the menu, to get every to agree to the same place, you don’t have to worry about that at an event like Taste of Madison,” Klemme said. 

At it’s core, the Taste of Madison is a non profit fundraising event. Local companies work the beverage stands.

Through tips collected and donations from the event, which donated $1.2 million back to local charities, businesses can underwrite their expenses for the entire year. Klemme said, “When you come here, you not only support our restaurants, you support our volunteers, and that money goes back out into our community, its a ripple effect”.

Business owners like Bella Butcher-Salazar feel that ripple effect firsthand. She and her two sisters own Curd Girl, a Madison staple. Taste of Madison offers small portions for small prices from a wide range of local food vendors, giving the 250,000 attendees a taste of Madison’s food scene.

And what would Madison’s food scene be without cheese curds? “We get to see so many Madison locals, so many people that recognize, people even travel,” Bella said. “There’s everything from traditional cheese curds to Jamaican food to Mexican food, the most kinds of foods that you can imagine are here”. 

And when a Wisconsinite can spread their love of food to different cultures, such as the man from England she served this weekend, it makes an event like this all the more special.

She says people say “what the heck is a cheese curd, and I get this a lot, its a cheese product from whey, and you fry it in the beer batter, you have dipping sauce, and it’s so fun to see them so confused and then they try it and their faces just light up, that’s what makes it all worth it, just seeing people enjoying it”. 

The taste of Madison announced at the event that they will return in 2023 at the Capital Square.

For more on Curd Girl, click here.