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Taste of Gainesville serves up a savory Saturday by Lake Lanier
Lanier rowing club fundraiser draws hungry crowd of supporters
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Guests wait in line to get tickets Saturday for the 19th annual Taste of Gainesville at Lake Lanier Olympic Park. More than 500 people were expected to attend this year’s event. - photo by Erin O. Smith

At one time, Taste of Gainesville was called Dinner on the Docks. But by any name, the fare is just as delicious.

It has been 19 years since the first event, which gathers most of the food and beverage options in Gainesville for a booth-style buffet. While the event used to be held on the park side of Lake Lanier Olympic Park, Taste of Gainesville is now held in the plaza on the rowing side of the venue.

“The sunsets were just incredible (on that side of the park),” said Robin Millard, president of the Lake Lanier Rowing Club.

Taste of Gainesville is the rowing club’s and Lake Lanier junior group’s largest fundraiser of the year, and allows them to offer educational programs like Learn to Row and other activities.

“This is one of our largest so far,” Millard said. “We are so happy with the wonderful participation of the local vendors and the citizens that help out.”

A committee of four individuals — Anne Marie Hynes, Sharon Heard, April Smith and Duane Schlereth — put the event together.

“They really worked so hard to get it to where it is now,” Millard said.

For a set price, visitors could fill their plates with whatever foods they liked, and for an extra charge, take home a commemorative wine glass. This year was the first time wine and craft beers were offered, Millard said.

“(Taste of Gainesville) is great,” said Cindy Langman, program coordinator for the Hall County Animal Shelter.

Heather and John Scrimsher were also impressed. Their daughter, Izzy, rows at the venue, so they heard about Taste of Gainesville from her.

“It is such a great venue,” Heather Scrimsher said. She and her husband tried as many booths as they could before throwing in the towel.

At the end of the night, guests could vote on their favorite foods, wines and beers, and the Scrimshers wanted to “do their research” to make sure they made the right decision. Their favorites included the Atlanta Seafood Market’s gumbo and offerings from Rick’s Smokin Pig BBQ Restaurant.

Dawn Kendall of Snellville and her friend, Susan Clarke of Duluth, stopped to sample their fair share. They were most impressed with the ribs from Texas Roadhouse and the orzo rice from Natural Juice Cafe.

Other restaurants participating included local favorites like BlueFin, Recess and Skogie’s, as well as chain restaurants like Dairy Queen and Applebee’s. In all, 28 vendors took part.