Taste of Ladera raises funds for local organizations, schools

(Courtney Johnson)

Stephanie Silverman

The Taste of Ladera celebrated its fifth year of helping local nonprofit organizations this past weekend. Local restaurants set up in Founder’s Park in Ladera Ranch for guests to sample the many flavors the area has to offer. Both local and non-local musicians performed, providing quality entertainment to accompany the fine cuisine.

“The Taste of Ladera is a lot of fun,” said Shannon Porter, 23, nursing. “They have something for everyone. I’ve gone the past couple years and this year is definitely the best!”

During the first four years of its existence, approximately $150,000 has been raised. The Taste of Ladera is the only event in Orange County where 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to the participating nonprofit organizations. Local schools and youth programs also benefit from the proceeds. Volunteers from Ladera Ranch and neighboring communities were crucial to hosting this event.

“I love coming here to support our local schools,” said Ladera resident Victoria Dutton, 38. “Also my kids love the rides and face painting.”

Restaurants such as Beachfire Grill, Newport Rib Company, Infusions, The Ranch Sports Grill, Riptide, Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs and many more participated. Each restaurant served just a “taste” so attendees were able to enjoy the flavors of many different vendors. Restaurants benefitted through exposure to over 20,000 guests.

“Tasting all the food is awesome,” Mike Nichols, 20, business. “Jerry’s Dogs was the best.

The nineties sensation Sugar Ray headlined Saturday night and U2 tribute band, Hollywood U2, headlined on Sunday. Other acts such as Faith Assembly, No Duh, and Taylor Warren performed. The second annual “Ladera’s Got Talent” was a crowd favorite.

“Sugar Ray was so cool!” Christina Martinez, 21, communications. “It was such a fun performance to dance to with everyone.

“The No Doubt tribute band was awesome,” said Christy Madsen, 20, interior design.

“There were a lot of acts that were really fun and it’s just a good event because it benefits local nonprofit organizations.”

Sunday’s theme was “Family Day.” Children enjoyed rock climbing walls, face painting, video games, and bounce houses. This Family Fun Zone was presented by Swirlz Frozen Yogurt and was the highlight of the weekend for most Ladera kids.

Taste of Ladera 2009 has raised the most money this year than any other year to date. Thanks to many volunteers and generous donations, our community has benefitted greatly, and the festival is expected to only expand in the upcoming years.

(Courtney Johnson)

(Courtney Johnson)