Taste of Louisville will celebrate 45 years on Wednesday. | Courtesy of Taste of Louisville

Long before tasting and sampling events became a semiregular occurrence in town, there was only one — the Taste of Louisville. The “Original Taste,” as organizers are calling it, will celebrate 45 years on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and will be held for the first time ever at Churchill Downs.

The event — which is sponsored by Gordon Food Service and serves as a fundraiser for the Kentucky Restaurant Association, Home of the Innocence, Jill’s Wish and Love City — will offer samples by more than 50 restaurants and wine, beer and liquor companies. Organizers are expecting more than 800 to attend.

Attendees also will get to vote on their favorites in three categories — sweet, savory and swig.

Since its inception in 1974, Taste of Louisville has raised more than $250,000 for local charities, which makes all that eating, drinking and mingling that much sweeter and justified.

Participants in the past have included everyone from Against the Grain and Bourbons Bistro to Uptown Cafe and Yang Kee Noodle.

Although they haven’t released a list yet for this year’s vendors, we can confirm from the Taste’s Facebook page that Butchertown Grocery, Mark’s Feed Store, Martini Italian Bistro, Selena’s at Willow Lake Tavern and Bulleit Bourbon are among the 50 that’ll be there.

Also new this year is a Silent Disco Lounge, where you can work off those samples on the dance floor.

Taste of Louisville begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Tables will be set up throughout the Paddock area of Churchill Downs. Tickets are $65 in advance or $70 at the door.