2021 | Bethesda

Taste of Bethesda canceled for second straight year

Bethesda Urban Partnership concerned about rising COVID-19 numbers

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The annual Taste of Bethesda festival has been canceled for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) has canceled its annual Taste of Bethesda festival for the second consecutive year due to concerns over COVID-19.

The downtown Bethesda management organization announced on Tuesday that the event, scheduled for Oct. 2, would not take place.

The annual festival features vendors from local restaurants, along with live entertainment. It draws as many as 45,000 people, according to a press release.

The increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County the last couple of weeks due to the spread of the Delta variant prompted the decision, BUP spokeswoman Stephanie Coppula told Bethesda Beat on Tuesday.

“We just want to be mindful of public safety,” she said. “We really wanted to have the event this year. We had started working on it and were super excited to do it.”

Coppula said having thousands of people in downtown Bethesda at one time was too many to conduct the festival safely this year. She said BUP didn’t want to put restrictions on how many people could attend or how long they could stay.

“There are certainly ways to do that, and we’ve never done that [before], and we didn’t think that would be true to the event,” she said.

Coppula added that Taste of Bethesda is the type of event in which people are frequently eating, drinking and socializing, which increases the amount of time people aren’t wearing masks.

BUP also canceled Taste of Bethesda last year due to the pandemic and replaced it with an 11-day restaurant promotion event, in which downtown Bethesda restaurants offered fixed-price menus. Coppula said BUP is exploring “alternate promotional activities” for restaurants and plans to announce them in the fall.

Smaller-scale activities, such as live music at The Streetery and “yappy hour,” will continue, she said.

Another downtown Bethesda event, the Bethesda Row Arts Festival, is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10, according to its website. Last year’s festival was canceled due to the pandemic.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com