Elegant evening in Oly

Olympia Farmers Market will get all dressed up Tuesday, becoming for one night an elegant open-air eatery.

The occasion is Taste of the Market, the biggest annual fundraiser put on by Friends of Olympia Farmers Market. It is a night of food, beer, wine and music that has sold out for the past five years.

“You would not believe what the market transforms into,” said Rosie Trujillo, who is on the Friends’ board and helps to organize the event. “The vendors are not there. What replaces them is all of these restaurants and microbreweries and wineries.

“There’s a seating area with tablecloths, cloth napkins, real silverware, nice china and nice wineglasses. There are twinkly lights all over the place.”

People who dine at the suddenly elegant market sample the cuisine of 26 restaurants while listening to the music of Joe Baque and his trio, with Mike Olson on congas.

“It’s wonderful music,” Trujillo said. “People get up and dance. Everybody has a good time.”

They even dress for the occasion.

“Women come in long dresses, strapless dresses, short dresses,” she said. “It’s a very elegant dress-up affair. It’s one of the biggest events Olympia has.

“Sometimes, the governor comes, and senators come, and representatives,” she added.

Appropriately enough, the event even involves voting.

Diners get the chance to choose their favorite main dish, dessert and beer or wine from among the evenings’ offerings prepared by such restaurants as Acqua Via, Anthony’s Home Port, Budd Bay Cafe, Dingey’s, Dockside Bistro, Mercato, Swing Wine Bar and Water Street Cafe.

Last year, the winners were Ranch House BBQ, San Francisco Street Bakery and the Fish Tale Brewhouse.

“It’s big,” Trujillo said of the awards. “These people work hard to get that people’s choice award.”

“Every year, I do a nice little pulled pork sandwich,” said Amy Anderson, founder and pitmaster at Ranch House, which has taken top entree honors the past two years.

Among Anderson’s secrets: “a lot of love” – she learned the art of barbecue from her mother – and a regional touch.

“It’s Southern style with a Pacific Northwest twist,” she said. “I use local fruitwoods instead of using hickory or mesquite. What’s prevalent in their region is different than what’s prevalent in ours.”

She prefers apple and cherry, she said, adding: “The cherry wood comes from my father’s orchards in eastern Washington. So it’s all in the family.”

Taste of the Market

What: This fundraiser for Friends of Olympia Farmers Market offers food samplings from 26 restaurants, plus wine, beer and music.

When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Olympia Farmers Market, 700 Capitol Way N., Olympia

Tickets: $60. Proceeds fund market improvements and scholarships for students from local farming families to study organic farming.