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Taste of the Albemarle: Food, art lovers converge at AoA

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James Riggs (center), manager of Hungry Panda in Camden County, speaks to guests attending Taste of the Albemarle at the Hungry Panda sample table at Arts of the Albemarle, Friday night. Helping Riggs hand out plates of samples are Monique Kesling, 16, Tiffany Bounds, 33, and Victoria Riggs, 11.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Lovers of the arts and lovers of good food came together at Arts of The Albemarle Friday evening to enjoy live blues, food ranging from crabcakes and barbecue to Asian and Mexican offerings, and locally brewed beer.

As of 7 p.m., an estimated 200 guests had attended the Taste of the Albemarle event. Organizers said their goal was 250, which they were expecting to make by the close of festivities at 9 p.m.

The UpHill blues band performed on the stage in Maguire Theater, and rooms on the second and third floors of The Center hosted the food vendors and Ghost Harbor Brewing’s beer samples.

Food vendors for this year’s Taste of the Albemarle included Cypress Creek, Montero’s, Plaza Azteca, Bob-b-que, Pineapple Cafe, Garden Cafe, Firehouse Subs, Volcano, Hungry Panda, Paradiso Roma Ristorante, and Happy Taco.

In previous years, the event was held either outdoors or at Museum of The Albemarle.

Most attendees Friday gave this year’s venue good reviews.

Andrea Grumbles, who said she had been to three or four Taste of The Albemarle events, said the small room on the third flood where the food vendors were located seemed a bit cramped and a little loud.

“I think it would be easier if it was just one big room,” Grumbles said.

But having the event indoors was a great idea, she said.

“We definitely like it inside rather than outside,” Grumbles said.

Grumbles’ date, Gabe Hodges, said food at the events is always outstanding.

“We’ve gone to a couple of them,” Hodges said. “We really like it.”

Hodges said holding Taste of the Albemarle on the building’s first floor might have worked better. “But it’s not bad,” he said, referring to food vendors being on the second and third floors.

One upside of the smaller rooms is that it seems to make it easier to socialize, Hodges said. He noted he had seen a number of people he knows during the event.

Bettie Lyons said she has attended Taste of The Albemarle in the past but this was her first since joining the board at Arts of the Albemarle.

“This year is a little more special because I just got appointed to the AoA board,” Lyons said.

Like some other patrons, Lyons saw pros and cons to this year’s venue.

“I love this location but I do think it’s a little small,” Lyons said.

Conway Chewning said he had attended the event in the past when it was held outside and thought the heat made it uncomfortable. Rain was also a constant threat when it was held outside, he said.

“This is better just because of the environmental issues,” Chewning said.

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