07/19/04 — Taste of Wayne comes earlier this year

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Taste of Wayne comes earlier this year

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 19, 2004 2:06 PM

Wayne County residents should hone their tastebuds early this year. The 14th annual Taste of Wayne will be held Aug. 31, not in September as in the past.

The feast is the annual kickoff to the United Way's campaign to raise money for charitable work.

Steve Parr, the United Way director, said the new date was chosen because "we wanted to give a head start to the campaign kickoff by starting two weeks early. We also wanted to do the Taste early to get away from any activities that may be going on for Sept. 11."

The Taste is the official start to the 2004 campaign. It will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Officers' Club.

Marlee Ray and Jane Walston are cochairmen of this year's event.

"The Taste of Wayne County is a fun-filled event where local restaurants and food vendors display their talents," said Ms. Ray. "Participants get the opportunity to sample a variety of foods prepared by various restaurants.

"This is a chance to highlight the food services of Wayne County and give people a taste of what's available here. And it supports United Way, which then provides back to our own community services in a broad range of areas."

Tickets will be $10 and go on sale Aug. 2. Ticket locations throughout the county and on base will be announced later.

A big change this year is that all tickets must be sold in advance. Anyone without a ticket will be denied access to base.

There will be ample parking on base at the soccer field across from the Officers' Club.

Ms. Ray said the Taste committee has been working closely with Security Forces and the base to make sure it is a smooth event. "It's a wonderful collaboration between the base and this community.

"For only $10, people will be able to sample foods from more than 30 vendors," said Ms. Ray. "It's for old and young alike. People can take their kids. It's a great family outing.

"It's not only a chance to sample the food, but an opportunity to visit with friends and neighbors. It's the best deal in town for $10."

There will also be entertainment.

Those attending will receive a free huggie to keep drinks cool. Taste of Wayne County aprons will be on sale for $15.

Restaurants and other food vendors may begin setting up at 8 a.m. that day. Everything must be removed no later than 8 p.m.

Restaurants will be judged on presentation, customer service and product quality and taste in these categories: Continental, country cooking, Oriental cuisine, fine dining, Italian cuisine, desserts, pub appetizers, Mexican cuisine, breakfast and non-judged.

There will also be a People's Choice Award. Those attending the Taste will be given a ticket to vote for their favorite restaurant. The restaurant with the most tickets will win the award.

Ms. Ray said the restaurants and food vendors see the annual event as "an opportunity for them to showcase their specialties and let people know who they are. You can walk around to a lot of restaurants in town and see their award displayed from the Taste. They're very proud of those awards. So many restaurants participate that if you come out a winner, that's quite an honor."

Ms. Ray encouraged those who have never been to the Taste to attend. "It will help them get a sense of who we are in Wayne County," she said. "The Taste is an event with a great history. There's something for everybody."

About 650 people attended last year's event, compared to a record crowd of 1,300 the year before and 1,100 in 2001. Thirty-four restaurants and vendors participated last year.

On display at this year's event will be the truck donated by Goldsboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep that will be given away during a drawing Nov. 20. The first of 11 drawings to qualify for the grand prize drawing will be held at the Taste. Anyone who gives his fair share will be eligible for the drawings.

"Fun, a good variety of food, a good cause -- you combine all of these together and you have a first-class event," Ms. Ray said.