- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2003

People milled up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest yesterday, stopping to sample delicacies from more than 40 of the region’s most popular restaurants during the 12th Annual Taste of D.C.

The three-day event, believed to be the largest international food and music festival on the East Coast, will draw about 1 million gourmands and music lovers to downtown, where they can eat, drink and get a healthy serving of arts, culture — and, of course, more food.

The festival continues today and tomorrow from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

Despite overcast skies yesterday and a threat of rain, people spilled into the streets on Pennsylvania Avenue between Seventh and 14th, where they bought tickets that enabled them to savor warm funnel cakes sprinkled generously with confectioners’ sugar or devour a slice of piping hot Armand’s pizza. Throughout the corridor, the smells of cinnamon roasted almonds competed with the aromas of spicy grilled chicken and Cajun buffalo wings from area restaurants.

Elizabeth and John McGhee traveled from Daytona Beach, Fla., to attend the popular festival. The McGhees rendezvoused with niece and nephew Cynthia and Doug Lucas from Atlanta who were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary.

After a half-day of visiting the White House, Arlington National Cemetery and other monuments, Mr. McGhee and his family were more than ready for a leisurely stroll from one food area to the next.

“We’re looking forward to sampling all of the foods,” Mrs. McGhee said with a smile.

That’s just what William Hanbury, president and chief executive officer of the Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp., organizer of the Taste of D.C., likes to hear. Mr. Hanbury, dressed in shorts, T-shirt and baseball cap, said he was very happy with the turnout yesterday and all the smiling faces. Last year’s sniper shootings cast a pall on the region and only 600,000 to 700,000 attended the event. This year will be different, he said, with even more on tap for the young and the young at heart, such as the “Wines Around the World” tasting area and increased activities for children at the KidzQuest area.

“This year, the Taste of D.C. is even better…. We’ve got more entertainment diversity,” Mr. Hanbury said.

Philip Fitzsimmons, an Oxon Hill resident and Metro employee, said there are two local events that he makes a point to attend: The Black Family Reunion and the Taste of D.C. — which he’s attended for the past eight years.

“The music is good. The food is good, and it’s a nice crowd,” Mr. Fitzsimmons said.

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