Taste of Henry fundraiser around the corner

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

If you’re looking to sample scrumptious delicacies – and to raise money for charity at the same time – get your tastebuds ready.

Crowds filled the Jason T. Harper Event Center at the 2014 annual Taste of Henry. This year 34 food vendors have signed on for the event. Photo by Nick Vassy

The 14th annual Taste of Henry, sponsored by Piedmont Henry Hospital, is scheduled for April 17 from 6-9 p.m. at Jason T. Harper Event Center, 95 Lake Dow Road in McDonough. Local restaurants are banding together for the event to raise funds for A Friend’s House, a shelter for abused, neglected and abandoned children.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and up, and $5 for children ages 3-12. Kids under 3 will be admitted free of charge.

The theme for the event is “Taste of Henry: The Best of Taste and Tourism.” Thirty-four food vendors – including KirbyG’s Diner & Pub and O.B.’s BBQ in McDonough – have signed on to take part in Taste of Henry this year. They will be joined by first-time participants including Fusion Restaurant and Bar, and Rita’s of McDonough.

Nan Jenkins is the director of development for A Friend’s House, which is in its 17th year of operation. She says Taste of Henry enables the community to show its collective support for a worthy cause.

“We have to raise 46 percent of our budget ourselves through fundraisers, donations and grants,” she says. “The fundraiser helps with that -- jut providing for the needs, whether it be academic needs, food and clothing, transportation to appointments and activities and general operating expenses.”

A Friend’s House, says Jenkins, is also teaming up with several local venues as a way to showcase the community during Taste of Henry.

“We’re going to have some local attractions like the Henry Arts Alliance and McDonough Arts, Camp Fortson will be there with some of their animals, as well as the City of Stockbridge and Tanger Outlets. They’re going to offer some great door prizes.”

This year’s Taste of Henry will feature a children’s area sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “’The “Ice Queen’ will be there, and we’ll have face-painting, balloons, an obstacle course – a lot of fun for the kids,” says Jenkins.

The stage sponsor for the occasion is Clinical Research Atlanta.

Last year’s event generated about $20,000 for the facility, and organizers for Taste of Henry have set a goal this year of $25,000. Jenkins adds that because of sponsorships for Taste of Henry, 100 percent of ticket sales for the event will go toward helping children at A Friend’s House.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to come out and support our cause,” says Jenkins. “Because of our great sponsors and 100 percent going back to the kids, it just helps to ensure that we’re able to provide them with the home that they deserve.”

The Henry County Convention & Visitors Bureau is partnering with A Friend’s House for the second straight year to support Taste of Henry. Laura Luker, the CVB’s director of tourism, says Taste of Henry provides a way to help local restaurants with their marketing efforts.

“It’s been very successful,” she says. “We got great feedback last year.”

Luker adds that Taste of Henry gives local residents a chance to be “brand ambassadors to share the amazing things that their community has to offer.”

“They can only do that if they know what those things are,” says Luker. “We advertise Henry County outside of Henry County with the goal of bringing people to visit Henry County.”

Also partnering with A Friend’s House for the occasion is McDonough Hospitality & Tourism. Christy Collier, tourism director for the city, says she is looking forward to showing her support for the shelter through Taste of Henry.

“I love A Friend’s House,” says Collier. “They’re special to my heart for what they do. I’m really glad that we’re able to partner with them again this year to put the best of taste and tourism together. We hope that the addition of us will increase ticket sales to benefit A Friend’s House.”

Additional activities at the fundraiser will include face-painting, balloons and inflatables, and musical entertainment by David Ellis and Melissa Callender.

Tickets and more information are available at all Moye’s Pharmacy locations, as well as the McDonough Welcome Center, the Chamber of Commerce, A Friend’s House or online www.tasteofhenry.org.