This past weekend I attended the annual charity gala in DC known as “Taste of the South.” This event, started in April of 1982 by a group of Southerners who were homesick and desperate to share a piece of their Southern heritage with the good folks of DC, remains one of the most popular charitable galas in the District…at least for the large contingent of Southern folks in the area. From its humble beginnings in the early 80s when tickets sold for $15, to the present day when you can expect to dish out over $130 for a ticket, Taste of the South maintains a stronghold in the minds of loyal supporters. Each year, the Committee, made up of 13 Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) decides on a “featured” Southern charity, as well as a local DC charity to donate the raised funds from the event. This year’s featured charity is the Mercy House from Virginia.
The Mercy House, founded in 1988, is a non-profit specializing in combating homelessness and poverty in the Shenandoah Valley area. The mission of the charity according to its website: “Mercy House continues to serve only families with dependent children and maintain focus on building and strengthening family unity. By teaching families about the importance of living and working together, each individual has the support that enables them to reach his or her highest potential. Our motto is “Changing the world one family at a time.” We see the positive outcomes of change through our residents and we know that our neighborhood is a better, safer and more prosperous community because families have been given a chance to grow and improve their way of life.”
The Washington, DC charity supported by Taste of the South 2013 is The Fishing School. This organization was started in 1990 by former Metropolitan DC police officer, Tom Lewis, who was concerned about the educational and motivational needs of under-privileged children in the Northeast section of DC. The mission of the Fishing School according to its website: “TFS’s mission is to provide a safe haven and academic support to under-served youth and their families in Washington, DC. Our mission is achieved by providing out-of-school time programming with a priority to the following five components: (1) academics, (2) wellness, (3) parental and school engagement, (4) enrichment, and (5) life skills.”
All in all, the event was a blast. My friends and I were able to sample delicious eats from several of the thirteen states—including my home state of Florida, which showcased my all-time favorite dessert, Key Lime Pie. Many of the states offered their guests reusable gift bags with various state-themed swag trinkets, as well as other forms of entertainment such as photo booths. The live band played classic musical favorites, and the open bar served cocktails, wine, and beer throughout the evening. I would recommend the event to all proud Southerners in the DC area, or even those of you (Yankees) who may enjoy a fancy night out on the town for a good cause. I do caution you to purchase your tickets early for next year’s gala because they will go fast. Check out the website for more information: Taste of the South.
You can also watch a video with interviews from the gala (hosted by yours truly) along with highlights from several other DC area events on the DC Hot Spots page.