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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Taste of Annandale: a celebration of diversity

The Taste of Annandale opening ceremony featured, from the left: Rep. Gerry Connolly, state Sen. Dave Marsden, Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Penny Gross, and Rev. Clarence Brown.  

A diverse crowd of people – of all ages from a variety of backgrounds – dined on food from a mix of countries (Thai, Salvadoran, Korean, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Peruvian, American), while enjoying a multicultural array of entertainment (from China, India, Latin America, Polynesia, West Africa).

That’s the essence of the Taste of Annandale, the all-day festival June 13 that sought to bring the community together through food, music, and fun. 

The Taste of Annandale offered a wide variety of menu options from barbecue to pupusas, from falafel to egg rolls.
Annandale is “vibrant and it’s changing and we are one community,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly at the opening ceremony.

 “We are here because we care so much about the Annandale community,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chair Sharon Bulova. “What is the taste of Annandale? The taste of Annandale is very diverse and it’s awesome. This is a place where you have many cultures, many cuisines.”

A young performer with the Alice Gu-Zheng Ensemble.
State Sen. Dave Marsden told the audience Annandale has totally changed since he grew up here and attended the first Woodburn Elementary School on Woodburn Road. “The first ‘taste of Annandale’ was really Shirkey’s Drug Store, where Han Gang is now, and if you could catch them open, you could get a hamburger,” he told the audience.

“But look at Annandale today. It is the crossroads of the world. It is a place where we are learning how the whole world can live together, work together, play together,” Marsden said. “This is a great community.”

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross urged the audience to “get to know your neighbors. That’s what this is all about.”

“Diversity is a bedrock in Annandale and in Fairfax County because we have welcomed so many people from so many different walks of life, from so many countries across the world – and we’ve made it work,” Gross said.

Members of a Peruvian dance group.
The Taste of Annandale, said Rev. Clarence Brown of Annandale United Methodist Church and the chair of the Taste of Annandale steering committee, “was the brainchild, the heart child, of many people in this community who came together and asked what we can do to provide an opportunity for our people to come out, for neighbor to meet neighbor, for us to see all of the different elements of our community in one place at one time.”

The concept, Brown said, was to bring people together to work for “the betterment of a thriving Annandale” and “that took many, many, many hands.” Among those he cited for making the Taste of Annandale possible: title sponsor Lambros Magiafas of Lambros Goldsmiths, all the other sponsors and vendors, and the other members of the steering committee, including Steve Lee, Glenda Olmeda, Norma Lopez, and Brendan Murphy.

“It’s great to have our first Taste of Annandale but it’s not our last,” Connolly said. “We’re going to grow bigger and better every year.”

There are more photos from the Taste of Annandale on the Annandale VA blog Facebook page.

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