Calories, camera and choco-dipped berries

I came, I saw, I ate.  I could still fasten my pants.

We arrive at the Taste of Tacoma where I sight first green grassy slopes, visitors in an array of colorful summer clothing and carnival rides in the valley that spin and twirl and turn flips and make me carsick just watching.

The kiddie rides are definitely out. Now where's the food?!

We beeline it to the booth selling books of discount tickets. We buy two to divide among three. "Will we be able to use up all these?" one asks. Silly boy. Of course. Food's involved!

We take a full tour before committing any tickets. At a food fest, I'm not gonna select foods I'm familiar with or eat regularly. This is an adventure! I settle on Southern cooking — a hot link (which I dress artfully just for you) and bowl of steaming greens that prove addicting.

The pals, both of whom are on veggie regimes at the moment, spring for the Southern red beans sans the rice and Vietnamese veggie spring roll with stir-fry.

With tummy purring like a content kitty's, I take a visual sampling of other dishes, stopping visitors to  ask whether I can shoot their meal. Everyone obliges. Gosh-durn this town is just so friendly!

Summertime fare, BBQ ribs from Famous Dave's:

Slices from Katie Downs, touted for its pizzas. I'm not a pizza person but this smelled great:

One of us can't say no to the curly fries. I'm not naming names. (Not me.)

Tastes like chicken. Really. They all say so about the alligator on a stick.

There's ears of corn, roasted …

and ears of elephants for dessert.

Strawberry shortcake is a golden hit …

but the dipped berries are prettier.

My sweet tooth seeks satisfaction in an icy Snowie with a rainbow of self-serve syrups:

On a warm afternoon, let us not forget caramel apples and good ol'-fashioned lemonade:

And margaritas?!?

Free samples you say?!? Oh.  No alcohol.  Skip that.

We chill out at Wine and Roses, where live light jazz and rainbow petals soothe the senses fatigued by the crowd.

After catching live tunes on the hillside and comedy at the adults' tent/beer garden, we stroll over to the arts and crafts, where I spot a colorful cool 3-D piece and the artist at work:

Dogs celebrate food fests too. The guy on the right had his seasoned plate torn to shreds. And would not share with his sibling. Poor pooch.

And after one final tour in an attempt to spend the remaining three tickets — on chocolate dipped berries — we board the bus with bellies satisfied and sights seen.

There was lots I was curious to try — alligator, bison burger, curried goat — but with each dish running 5 and 6 bucks a pop, I let my eyes feast instead. Thanks also to the good folks whose meals were made to-go with a camera. Taking leave now from the garden, cheerio and cheers!

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