Taste of Columbus menu sampling set Oct. 24 at The Commons

Daniel Arnold, from left, and Chiquita Snyder, with the Garden Grille and Bar, talk with Dina Buno as Buno samples food from their booth at the A Taste of Columbus in The Commons last year. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

It stands as the city’s version of one giant, progressive dinner, with diners moving from table to table amid a succulent smorgasbord.

Appetizers over here. Entrees over there. Desserts nearly everywhere. And enough varied beverages to leave attendees gleefully toasting their good fortune to be at A Taste of Columbus.

The fifth annual event slated from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at The Commons will feature about 30 restaurants, caterers and the like serving their newest specialties to a community hungry to use the fundraiser to support Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce programs. Last year’s gathering attracted a record 510 people who raised approximately $10,000 for the cause, according to organizers.

You want a sample of all the sampling of local menus? At one point last year, first-time attendee Matt Diebolt polished off a portion of candied bacon on a stick, followed quickly by something called a fireball cupcake, then finished with cinnamon creme brulé. And he was just getting started.

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So much food, so little time. For a $20 advance ticket (by Sunday) or a $25 ticket afterward, it’s an all-you-can-eat format.

“The chefs always seem to try to one-up one another,” said Cindy Frey, chamber president.

And when friendly competition is cooking, Taste testers, you might say, are all the happier. Kurt Schwarze of Fourth Street Bar & Grill has mentioned in the past that he pays attention to attendees’ feedback to new dishes his eatery is unveiling, such as a braised pork and rice dish a couple years ago.

Steve Leach, owner of The Garage Pub and Grill and also Fresh Take that will have a booth at the event, also seeks direct feedback from diners.

“We’ll definitely ask people’s opinion,” Leach said. “They’re sometimes standing right there (eating).”

At the event, the Garage will feature a new hot goat cheese and artichoke dip that soon will be added as an appetizer. And Leach said he normally can see at least a slight uptick in business after the gathering because people are more aware of his menus.

“I think it helps (traffic),” Leach said. “It gives you a great opportunity to easily preview different items before a great potential customer base.”

Newer restaurants use the bountiful buffet as a way of introducing themselves to the city’s palate. And, in years past, vendors serving their food and drinks have ranged from fast food outlets to coffee cafes to doughnut shops.

Not sure exactly what you’re hungry for much of the time? Fans say that A Taste of Columbus allows you to go with your gut — toward the pies. Or maybe the meat dishes. Or perhaps the finger foods that could become your favorite.

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What: A Taste of Columbus smorgasbord of area restaurants and their signature dishes and drinks. The events is a fundraiser for a wide range of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce’s programs.

When: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Tickets: $20 in advance (by Sunday) or $25 afterward and at the door. Online at columbusareachamber.com and at Viewpoint Books and the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

Information: 812-379-4457 or [email protected]