Nearly 40 restaurants are expected to be featuring menu items at the upcoming 13th annual Taste of Bryant, according to Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rae Ann Fields.
"With all these restaurants looking to come here, we must be doing something right," she said. "It also says to me that (Saline County residents) must love our food."
In total, 37 restaurants from Central Arkansas will be participating, including one eatery that hasn't even opened a facility yet, Fields said. The identity of the restaurant will be revealed at the Taste of Bryant event that will be held at The Center in Bishop Park from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on July 31.
In 2011, more than 500 people attended the annual event that showcases an abundance of food and drink samples from nearly all the local eateries and other "foodies" type of businesses. And that was with 24 restaurants featured.
There will be plenty of food choices — from ribs, steak, chicken, varieties of coffee, desserts, pizza, Mexican dishes, Cajun fare, soul/country foods — and the list can go on and on.
Fields said people also shouldn't forget about the large silent auction table. She also said that any business, or individual, looking for exposure to the public should contact the Bryant chamber or visit www.bryantchamber.com  for more information, including an area to download booth or exhibit forms.
"We are still open to anything anyone would like to give us," Fields said. "Typically, we get a lot of businesses looking to promote visually, but we do get donations from individuals. Last year, we even had a fur coat donated from a person."
Considering that all the food may be sampled as often as desired and the availability of silent auction items, the price will be hard to beat at $15 in advance for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 12, Fields said. And younger children may eat free.
The theme of this year's event, which is sponsored by Everett Buick GMC of Saline County, is "Beach Bash at Bishop."
"There is going to be so much for people to enjoy this year besides all the food," she said. "We always have things for the kids to do, including the kids zone area. We'll have the silent auction area, and we'll have several business booths for vendors to show off their products."
Fields added, "And the food that we'll have won't just be from area restaurants; we also get grocery stores with deli-type of items, caterers, butchers, baristas and others in the 'foodies' business."
Table sponsorships are being offered in which a business can display its advertising materials. As a person sits down to enjoy the food, the business brochures or information cards will be immediately visible.
"A business owner can come eat, set up a booth and serve an item that they know will get people in the doors and it will be noticed by the 500-plus people who attend," Fields said.
Anastasia Taylor, silent auction chairperson, added, "This is a great way for businesses to introduce a new item, too."
Proceeds from the event benefit various projects of the Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce.
"This is a great event that is a lot of fun for the entire family," said event chairperson Beth Smith of Heartland Bank. "We even have a special area for the kids to draw on large sheets of paper."
Fields added, "This two-hour, food-tasting event lets you arrive when you want, eat what you want and leave when you want. Regions are defined by their foods as well as their culture and language. Come see what tastes Bryant has to offer."
For more information and/or to order tickets, call the Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce at 501-847-4702 or visit the facility at 109 Roya Lane in Bryant.