Food trucks, carnival rides and crowds lined the downtown riverfront Saturday for the 22nd annual Taste of Omaha.

The skies were clear and sunny as festival attendees ventured through Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing in search of good eats and a good time.

Event producer Mike Mancuso described the festival as a melting pot of Omaha’s cuisine.

“We see so many different people coming together each year from all different parts of our great city, and then we see a lot of visitors coming as well,” he said.

Mancuso said more than 100,000 people are expected to attend the three-day festival, where more than 50 food trucks and restaurants serve a variety of foods.

Emily Ewalt, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student from Chicago, and her boyfriend, Daniel Kavanaugh, who moved to Omaha from Virginia, said they enjoyed their first time at the festival.

The couple tried brisket and rib tips from Smokin’ Gunz Bar-B-Que, fresh-squeezed lemonade and the Carson’s Cookie Fix ice cream cookie sandwich.

“It’s awesome,” Ewalt said. “I wish there were food trucks here all the time.”

Carl Estwick Sr. and his wife, Felecia, have been serving up barbecue out of their Smokin’ Gunz Bar-B-Que truck at Taste of Omaha for three years.

Estwick said he has worked at many events, from professional bull-riding tournaments to a benefit for Fremont flood victims, and he loves coming to Taste of Omaha.

“Omaha is growing, and the food is outstanding,” he said.

Diane Macaitis and Brian Nelson sat at a table taking in the crowd and the higher-than-usual river. The couple said they’ve enjoyed coming to the festival for about six years but would like to see the area used more.

“Have domino or chess tournaments and just open them up to everybody,” Nelson said. “It seems like all cultures can play dominoes.”

Macaitis and Nelson tried the barbecue and agreed that the food was “delicious.”

Attendees could also listen to free live music Friday and Saturday evening, with performances by Killer Queen, Rick Derringer, Disco Lady and Elton Dan & The Rocket Band.

Taste of Omaha continues from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.


Julie Dueler, left, holds hands with her boyfriend, Paul Sargent, while they walk to the Taste of Omaha event on Saturday.

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