MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The tastes of Minnesotans have grown over the years, so Dino Adamidis of Coon Rapids doesn't have to chase people down anymore.
The owner of Dino's Gyros, one of the original food vendors of the Taste of Minnesota, no longer has to entice customers to try pieces of the beef-and-lamb combination that goes into his Greek wrap sandwiches.
That's the major change Adamidis has seen since the start of Taste in 1982, when he had to offer free samples to passers-by.
"People would say, "This tastes good,"' Adamidis said. "Then they would ask, "What kind of animal did it come from.' When I told them, they would spit it out and run away and say, "We don't eat lamb.' After a while I did not say lamb anymore."
Now, people line up at his and other booths at the Taste festival that started Saturday and runs through Independence Day on Wednesday. Adamidis will have 20 employees and 16 gyro machines going to meet the demand that last year totaled about 10,000 of the sandwiches.
"It makes me feel very good that the meat-and-potatoes people here in Minnesota are trying something different, and they like it," said Adamidis, 54, a native of Athens, Greece. "It shows that if you have something good, and you work hard, they will come to you."
Ron Maddox, 63, general manager of Taste of Minnesota and one of the founders, said Adamidis is an example of why the festival, has done so well since it started as a copy of Taste of Chicago in 1982. Crowds of 300,000 to 500,000 attend annually.
"Sixty percent have been with us from the start," Maddox said of the more than 40 food vendors that will line the paths on the grounds in front of the state Capitol in St. Paul. "The vendors who have dropped out forgot what they were selling for. They tried to get fancy. This is Heartland, U.S.A."
"You can't do fancy chef stuff with 300,000 people," Adamidis said. "It takes too much time preparing and showing off. You need to do something very fast. You can't go to war with a water gun. You have to have a machine gun. If I had only three gyros machines, I couldn't do it. That's why I have 16 machines."
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