Taste Fest supports safety on the field

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 21, 2016

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With organizers joking that it will be your fault if you leave hungry, plans are underway for this year’s Shorian Taste Fest, a fun time with an important purpose — making sure kids stay safe on the football field.

The seventh annual Shorian Taste Fest will be held 1-5 p.m. March 6 at Barrister Gardens, 24225 Harper Ave., with more than 30 restaurants and caterers offering up tastes of their cuisine, from Andiamo and Applebee’s to Hooters, Buffalo Wild Wings, Starbucks and G. Willie’s.

The event is a fundraiser for the Lake Shore High School Quarterback Club, a group run by parent volunteers that gets everything and anything the football coach feels he needs for the safety of his players, but that the school’s budget can’t provide.

A few years back, said Craig Manning, president of the Quarterback Club and founder of the Taste Fest, coach Tom Iwanicki said he was interested in purchasing the “guardian,” a covering for a football player’s helmet that can lessen the risk of concussions.

“We were ahead of the curve, knowing that that was a thing,” Manning said. The protective gear costs only $35, so it’s not expensive, he said, but it wasn’t something that was in the coach’s budget.

And it’s because of the thousands of dollars raised each year at the Shorian Taste Fest that such a purchase is possible.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing that prevents a concussion,” Iwanicki said, but he explained that the “guardian” is another layer of protection for his student-athletes. “It doesn’t really alter the helmet at all; it just gives them another cushion.”

He said all the attention placed on football injuries has trickled down to his team, with fewer parents willing to let their children play the game. The Quarterback Club’s support in raising money to buy additional equipment and pads helps reassure parents that the team is as safe as possible when it hits the field, he said.

Tickets for the Shorian Taste Fest cost $15 in advance or $20 at the door, and Rick Gnacke, whose son, Brian, was named captain of the football team for this fall, said there will be raffles and silent auctions with prizes including tailgate packages, a spirit basket, large-screen TVs and tablets, as well as a cash bar.

The price tag includes “as much tasting as you can fill yourself up with,” Gnacke said.

The Lake Shore High School band will provide entertainment.

“This is our major fundraiser,” he said. “We’re one of the few high schools that provide a team dinner before all home games. We always buy a gift for the homecoming game, safety helmets and whatever the school (can’t provide).

“The budget for football is so small. This helps keep a smaller school like Lake Shore competitive in the big arena.”

Tickets cost $15 in advance by calling the Lake Shore High School athletic department at (586) 285-8920 or Gnacke at (586) 764-1095. At the door, admission costs $20 or $15 with a donated canned good for a local food pantry or a case of water to be sent to Flint. Children 7 years old and younger will be admitted for $5.

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