After a hiatus in 2020, Taste of Knox County is returning later this month — offering residents savory deals for dining out locally.

The event, sponsored by the Knox County Chamber of Commerce, gives locals the opportunity to enjoy special deals at participating restaurants and bars, says chamber president Jamie Neal.

“Residents benefit with the deals, but the real point of the program is to highlight the restaurants in the area,” she said.

Neal says dozens of Knox County restaurants will be featured. The offers will vary by business but will include a variety of discounts and even some speciality menu items, like the pumpkin spice cinnamon sticks from Main Street Bobe’s.

Customers, too, have the chance to win prizes by sharing photos to their Facebook or Instagram pages, using the hashtag #tasteofknoxco.

Neal hopes the special offers and chance at prizes are enough to get more residents out to local establishments to help bolster an industry that has seen a lot of challenges over the past 18 months.

“We know our restaurants have had a tough year trying to adapt to new procedures and everything else because of COVID, and we’ve done a lot for our retail establishments so we wanted to do something specifically for our restaurants,” she said.

It was, in fact, COVID that cancelled the event last year.

“Our ultimate goal was to do this each fall and spring, but when we went into the start of this year, everything was still so unknown because of the pandemic, so we waited until fall,” said Neal.

Even after bars and restaurants reopened at full capacity, they — along with nearly every other sector of business — faced a new set of hurdles.

“Now, they’re facing big challenges with staffing and food costs,” said Neal. “So we want to help give them a boost, and this is one way our community can support our Knox County restaurants.”

Area residents interested in the special deals are encouraged to visit the Knox County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page or their website at www.knoxcountychamber.com.

Businesses, including restaurants, bars and speciality shops, that would like to participate in the program have until Friday to register.

Participation in the program is free for businesses with a Chamber membership.

“And if they’re not a Chamber member, this is just one of the many things we do to help promote businesses. There’s still time to join,” Neal said with a laugh.

To register your business for the event, or for more information about becoming a Chamber member, call 812-882-6440.

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