Taste of the South celebrated its 29th year at DAR Constitution Hall Saturday with barbecue, music, and an open bar. Proceeds from the event went to the Children’s Safety Center in Arkansas and the Capital Area REACH Program in the D.C. A real added bonus: Lots of free stuff.
Most guests arrived at 8 p.m. and entered the main room, where each sponsor had a booth featuring their state’s food and freebies. Each had an unofficial slogan hung high above. Guests were invited to “tee off” in South Carolina, spend “a night at the Opry” in Tennessee, and Missippipi invoked the Doobie Brothers’ song “Black Water”: “Mississippi moon won’t you keep on shinin’.” The music was great, but not without perplexing moments. When you think “southern,” Hall & Oates, Frank Sinatra, and Billy Joel don’t come to mind.
Some states fared better than others. The South is apparently big on pulled pork. Nearly every state served guests pulled pork, albeit with different rolls and sauces. There were, however, exceptions. Missouri served a delicious seafood gumbo and Florida offered an amazing grits dish and classic key lime pie. But it was Virginia that won the Fishbowl Food Prize with a warm artichoke and crab dip, turkey meatballs, potato salad, and cupcakes from D.C.’s own Georgetown Cupcake.
Giveaways ranged from lame to awesome. Most states gave away pens, buttons, and bumper stickers, including one from Florida that read: “I <3 Publix,” a southern grocery store chain. Florida also gave away salt water taffy. The Fishbowl Giveaway Prize, however, goes to Mississippi. The state offered hats, T-shirts, and polos with the Mississippi State emblem, as well as Elvis memorabilia. The famous rock star was born in Tupelo, Miss. Honorable mention goes to Aflac, a sponsor of the event, which gave away talking stuffed ducks.
The crowd was young, and there were countless bow-ties and southern belles. Guests in the VIP room were a bit older. We didn’t spot any congressmen, though there were dozens listed as hosts. We spotted Ben Stein though, who showed up later in the night and munched on a Georgetown Cupcake as he flirted and posed for pictures.
Among the Sponsors: CQ Roll Call, Politico, The Hill, Air Canada, Coca-Cola, Aflac, Reynolds American, CSX, AT&T, NAHB, Altria, Lockheed Marten, Volkswagen, Wal Mart, Edison Electric Institue, Cellular South, Air Tran, Progress Energy, Duke Energy, Southen Company, Poarch Creek Indians, and the American Natural Gas Alliance, NRECA.
Photo credit: GWU student Kelsi Browning