by Christian Diaz, News Editor
The Swannanoa Business Association sponsored the second annual Taste of Swannanoa, held in Bryson Gym on January 28th.
Almost 20 local food establishments and businesses participated, either by donating items to be raffled or by sampling dishes to guests who were able to treat themselves to the best foods the area offers. $650 were raised for charity.
Proceeds from the raffle went to the Swannanoa Emergency Assistance Program, which pays utility bills for unemployed residents once a year. The program is underfunded and completely donation-based.
Olga, from La Bamba Burrito Express, was happy to sample their California-style wraps.
“We just started this business and we’re hoping that everyone supports us,” she said.
Tastings were provided by some of the biggest names in our small pond, such as the award-winning Okie Dokie’s Smokehouse and Chow Time Pizza, a staple food for Warren Wilson undergraduates. The celebratory fundraiser also featured beer from Pisgah Brewery.
Diners were invited to eat and drink until the food was gone.
“We saw a lot of people getting face to face understanding of who runs these organizations,” Jennifer Bullman, Chair of Swannanoa Business Association said. “The public was able to meet business owners, letting individuals know what some of our programs are and how important they are to our community.”
Highway of Heroes was also celebrated. This initiative revolves around US Highway 70 which leads from Exit 59 to the Veteran’s Cemetery in Black Mountain. This stretch of road has been honored by the North Carolina Department of Transportation as the Highway of Heroes.
Because funeral processions travel through this location, veterans in the area are working to line that part of the highway with stars and stripes. Diners were encouraged to sponsor 8-foot-tall flags for the project.
Other participants included the Swannanoa Volunteer Fire Department which provided valet services for guests, as well as the Appalachian Creek Nursery & Landscape which donated centerpieces that were also up for sale.
Diners Kate and Caleb Bower moved to Asheville last September. They particularly enjoyed sampling Okie Dokie’s Smokehouse’s barbeque and Puebla’s chicken and mole. What they appreciated most, however, was the social ambiance.
“To have people in your community get together [is valuable]. We’ve recognized people I’ve done business with,” Kaleb said.
“And it’s always nice to go to something that’s not a funeral,” Kate chimed in, adding the laughter of her husband to the murmurs of the crowd.