Taste of Charleston (copy)

The Taste of Charleston usually draws huge crowds to Boone Hall Plantation in the fall. This year, the food festival will not be held. File/Wade Spees/Staff

After 36 years, one of the Charleston region's biggest food events will not be held this fall.

The Taste of Charleston, an annual event for the past 36 years, is being pushed to the fall of 2018 for its next roll-out, usually held at Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant.

Other venues are now being considered, said Randall Goldman, chairman of the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, which sponsors the event.

"We call it 'The Taste of Charleston,'" said Goldman, who is also CEO of Patrick Properties Hospitality Group. "We want to take a look at where it's held."

He said five or six different venues are being considered, mostly in Charleston to reflect the event's title. Areas outside of the city also are being considered.

A date has not been set for the 2018 festival, according to Jenny Peppler, membership and special events coordinator for the restaurant group. It's usually held in September.

Late Friday afternoon, the restaurant group released the following statement: "The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association Inc. looks forward to unveiling a new format for its Taste of Charleston event, scheduled for fall 2018.

"Event planners are currently exploring some of the country’s most successful 'Taste' events in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta and Portland for inspiration and best practices," the association said. "Additionally, the GCRA will be expanding the platform of participants and actively recruiting restaurants from across the areas of Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties."

Last year, about 5,000 people attended the Taste of Charleston, though up until about three years ago the number was closer to 7,500, according to Gina Stouffer of marketing firm Lou Hammond Group of Charleston.

Goldman said the organization decided to cancel this year's event because it is undergoing a reorganization by bringing in new members to represent a broader cross-section of Charleston's food industry.

"We want to get some new folks with new energy," Goldman said. "We all feel we need to broaden the scope of the type of restaurants that are reflected."

He pointed to the food truck movement.

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.


"They need a seat at the table," Goldman said. "The association needs to be more reflective of the vast variety of the services we have to offer. We really want to take our time and look at the opportunities we are not taking advantage of."

The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association came under the fold of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau within the past year. Goldman said that's caused a change in the restaurant group's thinking as it relates to events.

"Instead of just another food festival, let's look at the type of festivals we have," Goldman said. "It's important to get a new generation of food vendors at the table."

By holding off on sponsoring a food festival this fall, he said, "It gives us a chance to refresh our initiatives and what we are trying to do."

Dozens of local restaurants usually participate in the food-tasting event that gives part of the proceeds to local charities. Last year, some of the money raised went to The Ronald McDonald House, Hollings Cancer Center, Shriners Hospital for Children and Charleston County Schools Science Materials Resource Center, according to The Taste of Charleston's Facebook page.

Goldman said money the charities may count on each year might be made up with proceeds from the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, which the association also sponsors and is still scheduled for January.

"We also want to make sure we are supporting charities that are supportive of our industry," he said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.