Jessica Houck, 5, watches as her brother, Finn, 3, gets a balloon sword just like hers from Jazz the Clown during Taste of South Routt on Saturday. The 15th annual Oak Creek festival drew hundreds to Decker Park for food, music, games and educational outreach.

Photo by Nicole Inglis

Jessica Houck, 5, watches as her brother, Finn, 3, gets a balloon sword just like hers from Jazz the Clown during Taste of South Routt on Saturday. The 15th annual Oak Creek festival drew hundreds to Decker Park for food, music, games and educational outreach.

15th annual Taste of South Routt offers 'thank you' to community

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— The Taste of South Routt festival is more than a gathering. It's an opportunity to reach many members of the Oak Creek and surrounding communities about important issues, all in the name of fun, sun and food.

And on Saturday at the 15th annual event, the issue of fire danger and the threat of wildland fires was prevalent even in the festive atmosphere.

Oak Creek Fire Rescue member Rob Bringuel brought his wife and two daughters to the event to enjoy the afternoon, but he also brought his fire expertise to the department's tent.

"We're presenting fire-wise and mitigation information to help people protect their homes," he said. "We talk about it every year, but it's more emphasized this year. We want to try to get people more proactive."

Oak Creek Fire Rescue also presented children's activities relating to water and bike safety.

Across Oak Creek's Decker Park, children had the only chance they might have this summer to build a campfire — albeit out of candy — at the Colorado State Parks booth.

But at its core, Taste of South Routt stayed true to its name.

About 25 vendors offered tastes of their special foods — from Lupita's fish tacos to Rachel's Smokin' BBQ — as well as arts, crafts and informational stations.

Two new restaurants in Oak Creek — the Circle R Bar and the Capitol Hill Grill — gave visitors the chance to sample their fare while several bands and two performances troupes entertained the crowds from the shade of the park's pavilion.

The event is organized by the South Routt Economic Development Committee and isn't a moneymaker for the organization or most of the vendors.

"This is our opportunity to thank everyone for their support throughout the year," said John Grout, owner of the Oak Restaurant in Oak Creek.

Julie Hoff, South Routt EDC treasurer, led the event's organization with several volunteers. She said it's a hefty project, but it all paid off Saturday when she had the chance to see almost everyone in town all in one place.

"It's the community, the people," she said. "The community really responds and it makes it worth it every year."

Bringuel is from Steamboat but said he feels at home at the Taste of South Routt celebration.

"It's more of a locals thing, a hometown feel," he said. "It's people closely attached to their community."

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

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