07/27/08 — Taste of Wayne set for Aug. 5

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Taste of Wayne set for Aug. 5

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 27, 2008 10:34 AM


Assistant News Editor

Meals on Wheels is one of the biggest programs supported by the United Way of Wayne County, so it's fitting that for the 18th year in a row, the organization will kick off its annual fundraising campaign with the Taste of Wayne County -- a smorgasbord of the best fare that local restaurants have to offer.

"The Taste of Wayne County is the United Way campaign kickoff event, held every year," said event chairwoman Marlee Ray, who also serves as executive director WAGES, which oversees the Meals on Wheels program. "It is a fun and exciting, family-oriented event that focuses on food and fun and music and celebration.

"And it's grown every year to be a very successful event."

Hosting the event on Aug. 5 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on the commons at Wayne Community College, organizers currently have 23 area eateries and beverage companies confirmed, with hopes for up to 12 more by the day of the event.

Among the restaurants already signed up are Brooklyn Pizzeria, Pizza Inn, Steve's Pizza Place, Royal Bangkok Thai Cuisine, Village Steak House, JJ Ashley Bakery & Gourmet Foods and China House.

Culligan Water, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and Pepsi Bottling Venture are among those expected to provide drinks.

But, Ms. Ray continued, the real highlight of the evening of food and fellowship is knowing that all of it is going to help Wayne County residents.

"It just gives us the opportunity to be a part of the larger community, to be with family and to be in a fun atmosphere -- all for a great cause," she said.

Tickets, which she said are going fast, cost $12 each.

They can be purchased at the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, the Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce and the Outdoor Recreation Center on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base before the event.

They will not be for sale at the door.

Anybody, however, can attend the official United Way kickoff at 5 p.m. at the clock tower, prior the Taste.

"Anybody is welcome to come to that and hear what the United Way's goals are this year and get excited about what's going on in the community," United Way Associate Director Suzi Acree said. "They won't be able to miss us. There will be a very large balloon entrance that leads right down to the clock tower."

The campaign -- themed "United Wayne" this year -- will run until Dec. 4. The goal this year is $1.42 million, just shy of last year's $1.44 million mark.

Mrs. Acree explained the organization lowered the goal because of the economy, but that if it can meet its target, it should still be able to continue its support of 25 programs run by 12 different agencies.

"That should help 28,400 lives in Wayne County," she said.

For more information, call the United Way at 755-3591.

The rain date will be Aug. 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., but only if Tuesday is a "total washout." Otherwise, Ms. Acree said, if there are just a few sprinkles, the "show will go on."