PHOTO SHOWCASE: Taste of Omaha
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You could win a new bathtub on Sunday, buy a pair of shoes or cremate your dog — all at Taste of Omaha.
OK, you couldn't really cremate your pup. But you could find out about the service, along with pet grief counseling, from Paws to Angels — one of more than 50 nonfood and nondrink vendors with displays at Heartland of America Park.
Organizer Joe Mancuso said the nonfood vendors were just as important to the weekend event's success as the 40 booths that offered food options. In turn, he said, the businesses got a boost.
A vendor at Taste of Omaha paid at least $5,000 to set up a tent for the weekend, Mancuso said.
“They know the feedback they're going to get is worth a lot more than the fee they paid for the event,” Mancuso said. “I'm sure they are getting a lot more sales after it's over.”
When they weren't eating at Taste of Omaha, visitors could watch a guy from Muzzy's Ice Service carve an ice sculpture of a dolphin with his chain saw, or pose for a photo at the Samsung tent. They also could buy a sassy pair of four-inch heels from Shoes by Shirley.
“People have been surprised to see us here,” said owner Shirley Miller, an Omaha native who lives in California. “Once you get them here, they say ‘Oh, these (shoes) are so cute.' ”
Across the way at the Midwest Exteriors tent, Joe Simon chatted with a woman about new bathtubs. He said the company often attends trade shows but prefers events that draw more consumers.
Paws to Angels owner Cherie Fry said Taste of Omaha attendees welcomed her as much as the nearby snow cones served up on the hot, windy day.
“They've been very supportive and say these services are overdue,” she said.
Bryon Batchelder of Omaha wasn't so sure about all the nonfood vendors. He was there to eat.
“I like cheese,” he joked.
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