By Tina Alvey
Call it a block party, a street festival or a leaf peeper’s picnic. By any name, the annual Taste of Our Towns (TOOT) festival in Lewisburg is one of the best food and entertainment offerings any small town serves up.
Since its founding 29 years ago, TOOT has been a fundraiser not only for Carnegie Hall — the primary recipient of the festival’s earnings — but also for a number of other civic organizations, churches, various nonprofits and even commercial businesses, all of which dish out samples of a dizzying array of edibles.
Booths will line downtown streets Saturday, stretching from Lafayette Street in the east to Church Street on the western edge of the shopping district. With the exception of the intersection with Jefferson Street (U.S. 219), Washington Street is closed to vehicular traffic to provide room for food vendors, entertainment and the thousands of visitors who converge for the annual celebration.
Numbering more than 60 in all, this year’s vendors include such restaurants as The Livery Tavern, Stella’s, Fujiyama, Food & Friends and Rudy’s Corner Grill, along with nonprofit organizations like The Family Refuge Center, Please Save a Cat, the PEO Sisterhood, Bolling Alumni Association and the Greenbrier Humane Society.
They’ll serve up tasty bites of all types of food, ranging from ribs, crab cakes and jambalaya to apple crisp, pecan pie and chocolate covered strawberries. For the adventurous festival-goer seeking an out-of-the-ordinary culinary experience, B Sweet Confectionery is preparing a pancake and bacon cupcake and The Greenbrier Sporting Club plans an apple butter mousse parfait to tempt those patrons who don’t fill up on the booth’s ever-popular shrimp and grits.
The food court will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with all vendors accepting only TOOT Tokens as payment. Tokens are $1 each and are sold in packets of $5, $10 or $20 at token booths located at various points throughout the festival venue. On-the-spot token purchases are cash only; they will be sold Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Tokens may also be purchased in advance online in $20 increments at www.carnegiehallwv.org or in person at the Greenbrier Valley Visitors’ Center on Washington Street or Carnegie Hall’s box office.
In addition to the food, TOOT features entertainment throughout the day at four stages dotting the venue. Entertainers are scheduled to include The Allegheny Hellbenders, Sassafrazz, Dave Burhman, the West Virginia Jazz Orchestra, Marguerite, Phat Pastors, Greenbrier East High School Spartan Band and Choirs, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School Band, Valley Dance Studio, Cari Cohen Fire Dancing and Greenbrier Valley Dance Academy.
Crowd favorite El Gleno Grande will hold forth at the Court Street Stage during multiple performances between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., while Trillium Performing Arts Collective will entertain at that site at 2:30 and 2:45 p.m.
For more information, including a complete schedule of events and location of performances, visit www.carnegiehallwv.org.
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