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How do you get ready to feed the biggest, hungriest crowd in Cincinnati?

Posted at 1:05 AM, May 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-25 01:14:53-04

CINCINNATI — You work overnight. That’s how.

Alex Dixon of Cold Iron Event Rentals spent his Friday night shouting instructions at crews setting up tents, placing portable restrooms and unloading equipment to ensure Taste of Cincinnati 2019 — projected to be the biggest-ever iteration of the event — would be where hundreds of thousands of hungry people expected to find it Saturday morning.

“Sometimes it gets hectic, chaotic,” Dixon said between cries of Head on swivel! and Get your corners right! “It’s a fast-paced environment. You have be on your toes, work hard and love what you do. Mainly you have to work as a team.”

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His team comprises 10 workers from Cold Iron about 43 helps recruited via Craigslist. The crews were outnumbered Friday by the 70 businesses and multitudes of food items poised to take over Fifth Street within hours.

“It’s coming together tonight because tomorrow morning at 11 it’s Taste of Cincinnati,” said Rich Walburg of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “It’s not Fifth Street anymore. It’s Taste of Cincinnati.”

Walburg said event organizers expect between 550,000 and 600,000 people to wend their way through the 41-year-old festival between Saturday morning and Monday evening, sampling dishes that range from empanadas to popsicles to the mysterious, haunting pork grenade.

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They’ll have their pick of 111 different beers to wash it all down, he added. According to Walburg, the variety creates a buffet showcasing the best the entire Tri-State region has to offer.

“You want to taste something from the other side of the region, this is a great place to do that,” he said. “And businesses tell us they see a spike for the weeks, months after that, from the people who come here and try their food.”

Taste of Cincinnati starts Saturday at 11 a.m. and ends Monday at 9 p.m.