By Amanda Joerndt
YSUscape held their fifth annual Taste of Youngstown fundraiser — an event that has grown from five or six vendors to 27 — on April 13 at the B&O Station, where all the proceeds from the event help to fund public art projects around the city.
Compared to last year’s 250 people in attendance, this year over 450 people from the community raised $5,500, which will be used for the revitalization and beautification of Youngstown.
Daniel Bancroft, a junior geography major and the president of YSUscape, said the fundraiser was formed in 2014 to raise money in support for their first mural.
“Three of [YSUscape’s] focuses are service, public art and activating public spaces,” he said. “We do a lot of public art around the community. A lot of community work days around Youngstown, and we also are doing things such as putting a pocket park in downtown Youngstown.”
Bancroft said a variety of food and drink businesses attend the event each year to advertise their business and support the downtown community.
Different cultural groups were represented with cuisine from Caribbean, Italian and Polish restaurants. There were also dessert stores, coffee shops and breweries in attendance.
According to Bancroft, the event benefits the revitalization of the city and gave local businesses an advertising platform for their company.
“This is a great opportunity for the small food businesses to advertise and get more involved in events like these,” he said. “We have a lot of people that — whether they’re sponsors, the businesses, auction donors — they’re doing this because they want to see us do more beautification for Youngstown.”
Catherine Fetter, owner of Daddy Dick’s BBQ and co-owner of the Boxcar Lounge in B&O Station in Youngstown, participated in the event.
Fetter said Daddy Dick’s BBQ is a family inspired business, and she has been developing her recipes for years.
“My dad actually had some amazing barbecue sauce recipe that I grew up with and I have all kinds of recipes that I’ve been cooking with him since I was a tiny tot,” she said. “Our barbecue sauce is more of a smoky barbecue. We do brunch on Sundays, and our chicken and waffles are unique.”
Fetter said she helped the students coordinate the event at the B&O Station and is an advocate for the focus on revamping the city.
“The B&O Station is a gold-level sponsor for this event, and I actually did a lot of the event coordinating and whatever I could to help the students out,” she said. “We want YSU students to come down and enjoy the park area and this can be a little escape for the students.”
In Fetter’s opinion, raising awareness through YSUscape for the revitalization of the city is crucial for the future of the downtown area.
“I think most importantly the beautification of downtown as we can continue to beautify it, which is the whole mission of YSUscape,” she said. “It’s going to bring more people downtown to support the businesses downtown, and I also think it’s going to decrease crime and vagrant issues.”
Ellen Harvischak, owner of Sweet Grace Anna’s, said the event gave her a chance to show off her specialty desert items.
“We do specialty wedding cakes, custom cakes, all gourmet cupcakes and macarons,” she said. “Everything we make is 100% by scratch and butter-made.”
Harvischak said the event helped her get the business name on the market and to raise money for the city.
“This is a little soft opening for us and a way to grow the business,” she said.“People will get to try our product and they’ll remember us, so it’s just a great opportunity to do something to help our community and to help YSU.”