Hundreds sample Midstate foods at 20th Taste of Lancaster County

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Upwards of 900 people bought tickets and dined out for the 20th year of a Midstate food festival, with the money raised by dozens of vendors helping a group that provides food to the needy in 27 counties.

At the Taste of Lancaster County, salesmanship matters.

“I do the sales and marketing and I cover all the shows, events, meetings, networking events,” said Sean Bruce, 16, of the Lancaster Hummus Co.

How many 16-year-olds do you know who are interested in networking?

“How are you doing sir?” Bruce greeted guest after guest. “You a hummus fan?”

And Bruce is no rookie: He found a distributor for his mom’s company at this event years ago.

“Our second year?” he confirmed with his mom, Deborah Mitchell, the hummus business’ owner. “Our second year, yeah, because I was 12.”

A natural marketer, Bruce was landing accounts as a pre-teen. That wasn’t even his first.

“We always used to call Sean the little mayor” as far back as age 5, Mitchell said. “He would just go up to people and shake their hands and introduce himself.”

“Mr. Brubaker, how are you?” Bruce greeted one gentleman. “Good to see you. How’s business for you? We’ll have to get coffee sometime.”

“We know sean,” Tara Davis said with a laugh. “We say he’s going to be president one day.”

For now, Davis, the SNAP outreach manager for the Central PA Food Bank, will settle for him being a good fundraiser for the food bank.

That’s where all the money from this event goes. Organizers hoped to raise at least $50,000, equating to about 300,000 meals.

“They know how important this event is,” Davis said of the vendors. “They believe in our mission, and that’s really why they’re here.”

“They do a lot,” Bruce said. He and Mitchell do believe in that mission, enough to consider helping those in need part of their own mission statement.

Networking aside, they know why they keep coming back to the food tasting event year after year.

“We like to give back,” Bruce said, “and the food bank, you know, it does that in a massive way.”

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