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Woodshed Red performs while a mom and daughter enjoy the music during Taste of OCC in Bancroft Park April 30. The event was a fundraiser for park improvements. The band was playing on a temporary stage in front of the bandshell because the city has not yet repaired the January fire damage there. The city has walled off the stage and placed a photo-collage poster over the wall (as seen behind the band).
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Strong turnout for 5th annual Taste of OCC fundraiser in Bancroft Park

      
As the sun shone on snow-covered Pikes Peak and on the Taste of OCC, close to 600 attendees gathered in Bancroft Park for live music, food/drink samples and conviviality.
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The fifth annual Taste of OCC April 30 may have been the most successful yet. According to organizer Lauren Ripko, sales for the three-hour eat-and-drink fundraiser for Bancroft Park were a virtual sell-out, including (for the first time this year) about 75 who paid $20 extra to begin partaking an hour early.
       People gathered in the temporarily fenced-off central area of the 1.2-acre park, enjoying live music from Woodshed Red and samples of prepared food and beverages donated by close to 40 businesses.
       The event was sponsored by the Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF), which has been focusing on the park's needs since 2013 - well before the January bandshell fire that prompted the city to begin site upgrade plans.
       The band's location, on a temporary stage about two feet high, in front of the bandshell, served as a reminder of the fire and that repairs have not yet begun. But no complaints were heard, and attendees dancing was a common sight.
       The OCCF is a charitable arm of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA), which represents many of the businesses in the historic shopping district.
       Weather had been an issue for past Taste events, and this year was no exception. The day before had featured snow and a bone-chilling wind, and April 30, though sunny, didn't warm out of the 40s until about 1 p.m.
       That didn't stop people from flocking to the event, with a third of the roughly 600 tickets being sold at the gate. As if in response, temperatures climbed into the 50s as the day went along. People kept showing up, with tickets being sold for half-price at around the time the event was half-over and some vendors were running out of food or drink.
       Ripko said she thought the publicity about the fire “played a part” in the public response. Waving at the crowd and the activities, she also expressed the view that “people want more of this.”
       With various costs still to be factored in, the net income from Taste was not yet calculated as the event wound down, but based on ticket sales alone the gross would be upwards of $18,000.
       Attendees included current City Council members Tom Strand, Bill Murray, Richard Skorman and Yolanda Avila, as well as Keith King, whose term ended in April. King had led the council effort to find $250,000 funding to cover the bandshell repairs and perhaps additional amenities.
LEFT: A Taste of OCC scene looks along the fronts of vendor booths. RIGHT: In attendance was Keith King, who led City Council funding efforts for repairs to the fire-damaged bandshell (background) before his term ended in April.
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LEFT: Lauren Ripko, who organized Taste of OCC for the Old Colorado City Foundation, delights in a spin of the event's fortune wheel. For $5 (money going to the foundation), people could spin the wheel and win various types of prizes. RIGHT: Several hundred Taste attendees passed through the entry gate at the south end of Bancroft park.
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LEFT: Volunteers Don and Shirley Wick (former owners of the Old Town Guest House) manned the fortune wheel during Taste of OCC. RIGHT: Looking toward the stage over the gathering in the central concrete area.
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Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/30/17; Business: Events)

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