The Taste of New Tampa, the area's largest event, returns Sunday without the man who started it all.
Frank Margarella died March 13 of complications from an acute illness.
The leader who helped coin the name "New Tampa" played an integral part in the event's planning and success.
"It's going to be bittersweet because we'll be carrying on Frank's legacy, and he won't be there to see it," said event spokesman Mary Ann Yaney. "But we're looking forward to carrying on even though he's not there."
Organizers will announce an award in Margarella's honor during the event.
Also for the first time in its 17 years, the food-tasting festival will allow businesses and artisans to sell their wares.
Organized by the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the event draws several thousand people who pay a flat fee for a wristband in order to feast on all-you-can-eat samples from area restaurants.
Organizers expect a similar turnout as last year, when about 40 restaurants and 75 businesses distributed food samples and freebies on the grounds of Liberty Middle and Freedom High schools, said chamber of commerce administrator Karen Frashier.
"We're very excited this year," Frashier said. "We have some premium restaurants and a lot of restaurants that are locally owned."
Land & Sea Market, Mulligan's Irish Pub and Red Lobster are among the participants.
Lawyers, mortgage brokers and chiropractors will offer information about their businesses.
Bob Thompson of Thompson Studios and his band will entertain, as will the musical group ShowKidz.
No children's area will be available this year, Frashier said, because it was not as popular last year as organizers had hoped.
The chamber wanted to open up a large part of the event to local artists, but it did not work out. A few businesses, though, will sell items like handmade jewelry, Frashier said.
No shuttle service will be provided because parking this year is closer to the event site.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Frashier said. "It's definitely a family event."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or email@example.com.