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Taste of Gainesville offers sights, sounds, fabulous food
Event raises money for rowing club
Donna Walker, right, stops by the Brenau University catering booth to get a taste of Kiko Lewis, left, and Alice Cheung’s offerings Saturday evening during the Taste of Gainesville festival at the Lake Lanier Olympic venue. The event is a fundraiser for the Lake Lanier Rowing Club.

Food, music and the setting of Lake Lanier drew a hungry crowd Saturday evening to the 14th annual Taste of Gainesville.

Held at the Lake Lanier Olympic venue, the event served as a fundraiser for the Lake Lanier Rowing Club.

"This is our second largest fundraiser to support the Olympic-based programs at the LLRC," the club's office administrator, Ann Marie Hynes, said.

Twenty-two local restaurants lined the venue offering a little of everything such as seafood, pizza, soups, baked items and different entree items.

"We go to the restaurants of the local area to donate food," Hynes said. "Hopefully, the people will find something they like and go support the business."

In addition to the variety of food offered, music was provided throughout the evening by local musicians Walter L. Biel, Jerry Wood, Jerry Perez and Cindy Fanelli.

An art gallery was put together by North Hall High School Senior Betsy Cruz featuring artwork by students. There was also a raffle giving away signed prints of a painting by Annie Brodie Hill that was commissioned for the 1996 Olympics.

Members of the Chestatee High School JV volleyball team helped as volunteers.

Paul Hayes from Suwanee has been coming for the past five or six years to Taste of Gainesville.

"I didn't know there was so many good places in Gainesville," Hayes said of the restaurants represented.

"I like the experience, the different types of restaurants and the beautiful scenery."

Kim Messamore of Sugar Hill has been coming for at least 10 years. She said she comes "... for the good music, the food and the lake."

She added this was a good opportunity to expose people to the local restaurants.

The Taste of Gainesville is a huge fundraiser for the LLRC.

"We need to raise money to support the venue," Hynes said. "It's a way to offset the cost, so we can buy equipment and hopefully hire a new coach. We're the last Olympic venue that is still used for what it was built for."

Another huge source of revenue for the LLRC is their spring break training throughout March. Teams from the northeastern U.S. travel to Lake Lanier to train while their lakes are still frozen.

"We'll probably host at least 2,000 athletes here this year," Hynes said. "They stay for a week."

Taste of Gainesville also serves a way to feature all of the local restaurants and possibly bring in new business for them.

"We want people to know we support the community," Hynes said.