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Taste of Henry coming to McDonough this month


By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

  Henry County’s tastiest tradition is set to make its return to McDonough, satisfying the community’s cravings while raising money to help children in crisis.

There were approximately 1,000 participants and several hundred vendors at last year’s Taste of Henry, which raises funds for A Friend’s House, a  home for abused, neglected and abandoned children in Henry County.                                                                            Photo by Nick Vassy

The 13th annual Taste of Henry, will be held April 18 from 6-8 p.m. at Jason T. Harper Event Center, 95 Lake Dow Road in McDonough. Local eateries will be put in the spotlight to raise funds for A Friend’s House during this year’s event, which is sponsored by Piedmont Henry Hospital.

  “It is our signature event,” said Nan Jenkins, Development Director for A Friend’s House. “It is one of two of our largest fundraisers.”

  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.

Jenkins said the family-friendly event will provide a way for the community to show its collective support for a worthwhile cause.

  “We provide an emotionally and physically safe place for abused, neglected and abandoned children,” she said. “We have to raise 46 percent of our budget ourselves. The fundraiser helps with that – just providing for the needs, whether it be academic needs, food and clothing, transportation to appointments and activities and general operating expenses.”

  Jill Holder has been the executive director of A Friend’s House for nearly seven years. She said Taste of Henry is a major fundraiser for her organization.

  “It’s a great outreach in the community for people to learn more about A Friend’s House,” said Holder. “We have faithful people who come every year, and know us and know what we do. But we also have new people every year who may be coming to enjoy the tastes but also learn that it supports an important work in the county.”

  A Friend’s House is a 24-bed shelter that includes two nursery beds and is licensed to serve children 18 and under. Holder said although the facility is not currently filled to capacity, the needs there have grown over the years.

  “When AFH first opened, we were an emergency shelter, and the number of days that a child could stay was limited to 30-60 days,” said Holder. “That changed in 2007. There are no longer time limits. So, children are staying as long as they need to stay -- until they go home, or to a foster home, or to a family member or possibly reach independence.”

  Holder added that in 2013, children spent more nights at A Friend’s House than any year’s time frame before that.

“We didn’t have as many individual children, but they stayed more nights,” she said.

  Thirty-five food vendors, including O.B.’s BBQ, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, Seasons Bistro, KirbyG’s and Bliss, are scheduled to participate.  Food vendors that are participating in Taste of Henry for the first time include Slice Bakery in Stockbridge and Rapid Gourmet Online.

  The theme for this year’s event is “Taste of Henry: The Best of Taste and Tourism.”

  Jenkins said Taste of Henry will showcase Henry County in a whole new way by partnering with the Henry County Convention & Visitors Bureau and McDonough Hospitality and Tourism.

  “We’ve added a tourism component,” she said. “This is kind of an opportunity for them to bring the Henry County attractions into one place.”

  Laura Luker, the CVB’s director of tourism, said her organization approached A Friend’s House about joining forces for Taste of Henry. She said billboards and other types of advertising are part of an effort to generate interest in the event, and in the county as a whole..

  “We had been looking for a way to let not only residents, but also potential new visitors, know about all Henry County has to offer,” said Luker. “We advertise Henry County outside of Henry County with the goal of bringing people to visit Henry County.”

  Cheryl Young, tourism director for McDonough Hospitality & Tourism echoed Luker’s sentiments. She said attendees at Taste of Henry will be able to learn about venues in the city such as Southern Belle Farm and Heritage Park as well as events that are held on the Square throughout the year.

  “I’m excited to partner with Taste of Henry to showcase what McDonough has to offer,” said Young.

  Several tourism vendors have also signed up to participate in Taste of Henry.  Among them are Atlanta Motor Speedway, Southern Belle Farm, Panola Mountain State Park and the Merle Manders Conference Center.

  Jenkins added that because of sponsorships for Taste of Henry, 100 percent of ticket sales will go toward helping children at A Friend’s House. Last year’s event generated $25,000 for the facility, and organizers for Taste of Henry have set a goal this year of $28,000, she said.

  Taste of Henry will feature an area just for kids, sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Activities will include face-painting, balloons and inflatables, and musical entertainment by David Ellis and Melissa Callender. The entertainment stage is being sponsored by Clinical Research Atlanta.

  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



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