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Large crowd enjoys Taste of Shelby County

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Siblings Asa, left, and Kiya Jim show off their face paint at the fifth Taste of Shelby County Friday evening in downtown Shelbyville.
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Indianapolis-based band “Tastes Like Chicken” performed at the Taste of Shelby County Friday evening in Shelbyville.

By HANNAH GUNNELL - hgunnell@shelbynews.com

Five-year old Emerson Stewart sat on a cooler with her left arm fully extended, dead mouse in hand.

Silly Safaris founder Amazon John sat next to her holding a vulture named “Ludwig,” after composer Ludwig Van Beethoven.

“A vulture is a decomposer!” he joked.

Ludwig slowly moved its beak toward Emerson’s hand, inspecting its prey, then swallowed the mouse whole.

This was one of the many features of Friday night’s fifth Taste of Shelby County event in downtown Shelbyville.

In addition to the vulture, Emerson and other attendees also got to see a 12-foot long albino Burmese python, a Boston terrier, a toad, a lizard, a scorpion, a bunny, a tortoise (named “Shelby”) and a kinkajou (“Not a pikachu!” shouted Amazon John).

Amazon John even let attendees pet and hold some of the animals because he wanted to give people a positive experience with wild animals as a way to improve animal conservation efforts, he said.

The Taste of Shelby County event also featured a Cruise-In Car Show, where Shelby County car enthusiasts displayed their classic cruisers.

Shelbyville resident Danny Dewitt and his two grandsons, Collin and Conner Duncan, showed off Dewitt’s 1963 Chevrolet Impala, which Dewitt named “Old Vic” after his sister Vicky.

“I bought it the same week my sister died,” Dewitt said. “Her name was Vicky. She never got to ride in it.”

Dewitt bought and restored the car himself, he said.

Dewitt said his grandkids love to go for joyrides in the car, but he doesn’t drive it very often because he wants to keep the mileage low. It only has 9,600 miles on it, he said.

But the main feature of Taste of Shelby County was the multiple Shelby County-based food and beverage vendors, like Dave’s Double Grill BBQ, founded by Dave Johnson.

Johnson said there were many secrets to his BBQ, starting with building his own smoker. The smoker he brought to Taste of Shelby County was the fourth he built.

“I built this one,” he said. “This one is out of stainless steel, I expect it to last long. The secret is the air flow.”

He didn’t divulge his other secrets, but one could see him mixing pepsi in his barbecue sauce.

“When you’re doing something you’re proud of, it gives you a sense of being, a sense of why you’re here on Earth,” he said. “That’s kind of why I do this.”

Thirsty patrons found their way over to Brandywine Creek, one of the few breweries set up under the alcohol tent.

Jennifer Baker, co-owner of Brandywine Creek, said she hadn’t served Taste of Shelby County before and began selling drinks as soon as the event started.

“The most popular of what I brought is probably the Steuben or Peach, because they’re sweet wines and that’s what sells best in the midwest,” she said.

Those looking for something non-alcoholic could purchase soda cans and water from the Triton Central Band, who raised funds for itself.

Cindy Allen and her husband have attended Taste of Shelby County every year.

“It’s a nice variety of food,” Allen said. “You get to try a lot of places you don’t normally eat at.”

She said she thinks Taste of Shelby County is a great event for the community because it introduces people to local businesses.

“And the weather is great this time,” she added. “Last year it rained.”

Allen said the dessert is the best part of the event. She gets her dessert from WildFlour Artisan Bakery, owned by Lori Pike.

“(Lori) always has a good variety and she’s very nice to talk to,” Allen said.

Like Allen, WildFlour Artisan Bakery has attended Taste of Shelby County every year. Pike said she keeps bringing her desserts back because it’s good for her business.

“You get your name out there and you get seen by a lot of people,” she said.

She served French Macaroons, Strawberry Pie, Lemon Bars and Lemon Cake, which she chose to serve because she “wanted to.”

“Strawberries are in season, so I picked strawberry pie, and I know citrus is in season, so I picked Lemon Bars,” she said.

While all of the food was being served, Indianapolis-based band “Tastes Like Chicken” performed songs of all genres for attendees to enjoy.

Vic Koons, bassist and co-owner of the nine-person band, said “Tastes Like Chicken” hadn’t played Taste of Shelby County before, but was recommended to the event organizer (Rachel Ackley) by a friend.

“We’re a party band,” he said. “We do dance, all upbeat, funk stuff, music.”

“Tastes Like Chicken” played for 3 ½ hours, but it took some coaxing (and maybe a little alcohol) to get participants to start dancing. Then children with painted faces boogied, people who’d never met before introduced themselves and danced together, and a mom even got up to embarrass her teenage children.