09/01/04 — Sold-out crowd gets taste of Wayne

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Sold-out crowd gets taste of Wayne

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 1, 2004 1:58 PM

A near-record crowd of 1,200 people came out Tuesday to the 14th annual Taste of Wayne County to sample mouth-watering delicacies from 30 local restaurants.

The people started lining up at the main gate to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base an hour early to attend the event at the Officers Club.

For the first time, tickets had to be sold in advance. Jane Walston, one of the event cochairman, said United Way had planned on selling last-minute tickets at Grounds for Expression on Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m. But the tickets were sold out by 2 p.m., and a few people had to be turned away.

"We expected to have people buying tickets up to the time of the event," said Ms. Walston.

The biggest turnout for the Taste was in 2002, when 1,300 attended. But only 650 attended last year.

The coveted People's Choice Award went to Texas Steakhouse. Other food awards were presented to Wilber's Barbecue for country cooking; China House, Asian cuisine; Ham's, fine dining and pub appetizers; Texas Steakhouse, continental cuisine; Java Jo'z, desserts; Torero's, Mexican cuisine; Bojangles, breakfast foods; and Pizza Inn, pizza.

Winners received an engraved silver platter to display at their restaurant along with a sign stating what category they won to put outside their restaurant.

One of the judges for pub appetizers and fine dining cuisine was Jim Morrison, president of United Way of North Carolina. This was his second year of judging the Taste of Wayne County. He said it was "great" and it's always hard to make a decision. "It's a great community event and a great way for United Way to kick off its campaign."

Marion Waters with the Wayne County Public Library judged country cooking and Mexican cuisine. She said everything was very good and that she "loves this event."

Front Runners, businesses that conducted their employee campaigns to set the pace before the general campaign begins, were also recognized.

They are the Goldsboro News-Argus, $19,258, which will help 385 people; Wayne Community College, $24,059, which will help 480 people; and Cooper-Standard Automotive, $67,467, an increase of 208 percent over last year, which will help 1,350 people.

Other companies that have concluded their campaigns but are not Front Runners are Moffat Oil, $3,648, which will help 73 people; Pittard Perry and Crone, $6,585, which will help 130 people; Wayne County Public Library, $5,634, which will help 113 people; Grand Rental Station, $2,986, which will help 60 people; Turner Equipment, $4,234, which will help 85 people; Wayne County Partnership for Children, $2,106, which will help 42 people; and KS Bank, $1,193, which will help 24 people.

Donnie Barnes, this year's campaign chairman, announced at the Taste that a total of $300,750 has been raised so far, which is 22 percent of the goal of $1,332,000 and will help 6,515 people. He said compared to this time last year, the campaign is up 58 percent.

Also during the Taste, the first of 11 finalists for the Fair Share Challenge was drawn by Hal Howard, general manager of Goldsboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep. It was Rebeca Huerta of Uchiyama America.

Those who give their "fair share," one hour's pay a month, are entered into a drawing. The 11 finalists will choose keys on Nov. 20, and one of those keys will fit a new truck.

Marlee Ray, event cochairman, said it was a "fabulous evening."

"When the biggest problem you have is trying to get everybody on base, that's a wonderful problem," she said.

"The food was delicious. The music and festivities were great. Everybody was happy. It was a true sense of Wayne County. We got a taste of all the best in Wayne County."

She said those who didn't attend "missed a highlight event. For anyone who tried to buy a ticket after they were sold out, we sincerely apologize and encourage them to buy their tickets early next year."

Ms. Ray noted that the event is run by volunteers. "And Lee Wright, a temporary staff member at United Way, came in on short notice and picked up the ball and ran with it. She absolutely made this event work.

The campaign will end Nov. 19.