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The Taste of Buffalo, one of the area's favorite summer events, will set its table along Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square starting next July.

The two-day festival, which features a smorgasbord of foods from area restaurants, will relocate from its longtime site on Main Street for its July 9-10 run in 2005.

"The biggest reason for the move is space. We have outgrown Main Street," said Sandy Lamphear, Taste of Buffalo first vice chairwoman.

A survey of this year's Taste-goers found the No. 1 complaint was that the event has become too crowded, making it difficult to get from vendor to vendor. The festival attracted thousands to 53 booths in 2004.

In moving from Main Street, the event will not only gain an extra 30 feet of street width, but patrons will no longer have to negotiate their way through Metro Rail track beds balancing plates overflowing with everything from chicken wings and pizza, to deep-fried cactus and cheesecake.

"It's going to be easier to move around, absolutely," Lamphear said. "And we'll have the magnificent backdrop of City Hall. I think people will really love the change."

The food festival has been held on Main Street for all but one of the past 21 years. In 1984, construction of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Metro Rail line temporarily moved the festival to a section of Delaware Avenue in the city's Allentown neighborhood.

Taste of Buffalo representatives briefed the restaurant community Monday regarding the relocation plan and received favorable reaction, according to Lamphear.

"Of course, they had a lot of questions because it's a new location, but they seemed very excited about the change," she said.

Jo Romanello, of Romanello's Roseland Restaurant, which has had a booth at Taste of Buffalo since its inception in 1983, said the new venue will make the successful event even better.

"I think it will be a great improvement. It will make for a better flow of people, be easier to clean up, and I like the idea of it going around Niagara Square," Romanello said.

Organizers also are working on a designated parking plan for vendors to access the site with their goods, using the streets that radiate out from Niagara Square, something that should simplify setup and cleanup efforts.

The Taste of Buffalo will join a growing list of events that use Niagara Square as their stage. The Buffalo Bike Blast has been held there the past two years, and in July the Goo Goo Dolls used Niagara Square as the backdrop to their Fourth of July concert.

Several other events, including fund-raising walks and voter registration efforts, also have used Niagara Square.

"Even people who don't come to Buffalo very often know where Niagara Square is. It's one of the region's best-known addresses," said Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, whose City Hall office overlooks the square and the McKinley Monument. "I think it is the perfect location for the Taste of Buffalo, and I'm thrilled they'll be here."


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