A Taste of Dixie Brought Back from the Dead

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Last weekend food connoisseurs were able to sample the likes of Bombay Café, Pepper’s Cantina, Café Rio, Le Parry Pastry Shoppe and Brick Oven all in one stop.  

Vernon Worthen Park was the source of yet another October Event, this time for the resurrected “A Taste of Dixie.” Thousands swarmed to the festival in the park Friday and Saturday to partake of good food, entertainment and shopping.

I’d seen multiple signs posted around town about the festival and since nothing can get between this girl and a food-associated outing, I grabbed my sunglasses and wallet and headed to the park.

A Taste of Dixie was alive and well about 20 years ago, complete with food and art. However, the festival dwindled and was eventually phased out until this year, when the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce decided to bring it back to life.

“We wanted to get people outside so we decided to resurrect it, but instead of just food and art we thought we’d expand it to any business that thought it would be a good venue,” executive director Gregg McArthur said.

McArthur said the festival included 20 food vendors and 80 other vendors with anything from phone books, to legal services, to jewelry, to Internet.

“We have free kids ride, free entertainment and we bring all the businesses out here so you don’t have to drive around to find them, you can come here and get to know your local businesses,” McArthur said.

I perused the booths for a while, smelling Scentsy bars and chatting with chiropractors, but I quickly got distracted by the entertainment side of the event. Little kids worked up the courage to talk to a green witch and I braved a 15-foot vicinity of the man with a gigantic yellow python.

It took me a while to make a decision on food, but the Navajo taco with sweet fry bread I got was worth the wait. I found a vacant picnic table and settled down to watch the young dancers on stage. The blue sky and few fluffy clouds was a welcome change from recently rainy weather. In fact, it was just one of those perfect fall days in St. George.  

Vendor Gary Westover said business was slow Friday, but it picked up Saturday when the sun came out.

“I’m happy with the success we’ve had,” Westover said. “I wish we’d had more business, but they did a lot of advertising with signs and on the radio. I know it’ll just get better.”

Westover said he’s been doing Dutch oven catering for five years and this past year’s been slower than most, but the best part about A Taste of Dixie was the opportunity to hand out business cards and get his name out to the public.

 “I’m more impressed with that than anything,” he said. “I’m already planning on coming out next year.”

Local Arlene Hart was happy to find another fun activity in St. George.

“All the festivals the city holds are fun,” Hart said. “So since my husband and I were out and about we decided to mosey around and see what they have.”

While the music wasn’t Hart’s taste, she said she liked that the booths were closer together so that she could see more things at once.

A Taste of Dixie drew in well over 3,000 visitors its first year back to life. For visitors like me, it was a fun outing to see what makes Utah’s Dixie so unique.   

“It’s a nice time of year and a nice day to be out in the park,” McArthur said. “Based on the success we’ve had I think we’ll start doing it on a regular basis.”