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Taste of the Town fundraiser offers samples of Hagerstown restaurant fare

October 06, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- Mary Lou has been offering crab pretzels, shrimp and steak for more than four years at the restaurant she co-owns with her husband and another partner.

But many people sampled Maloo's Pub & Grill menu for the first time Sunday at an event across the street from the business on Robinwood Drive. Mary Lou's restaurant was one of about 20 to participate in Taste of the Town - an annual fundraiser for REACH. Sunday's event, held at Hagerstown Community College's ARCC, was the fourth Taste of the Town dinner, which also included silent and live auctions, said REACH Director Jodie Stock.

Stock was overseeing her first Taste of the Town since taking the head job at REACH earlier this year. She said last year's event raised about $38,000 for the organization's volunteer outreach, including the cold weather shelter, crisis intervention and "faith in action."

About 650 people attended Sunday's event, yet Stock said she was unsure if current economic uncertainty might result in fewer donations this year.

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"I'm just amazed by the number of people who came to volunteer," she said. "There's a lot of heart here."

Stock said about 140 people volunteered their time for the event, including about 70 youth.

Andrea Sawtelle and her husband, Nate, of Hagerstown, said they know people who have volunteered for REACH, which inspired them to help with Sunday's event.

"We like what REACH does, and what they do for the community," Andrea Sawtelle said.

After their work was done, the couple took time to sample some of the food. Nate said his favorite was the crab pretzel from Maloo's Pub & Grill, and the food from Black Eyed Susan Restaurant and Catering in Williamsport.

Lou said Sunday's event was the first Taste of the Town in which she had participated, and that restaurant owners volunteer their food and time for the fundraiser. She said many people at the event had never been to her restaurant.

"I've seen some familiar faces, too, though," Lou said.

Carl Thomas, of Hagerstown, said he tried a little bit of everything Sunday, but said his favorites were the offerings from Higher Ground Coffee in Hagerstown.

"And I'm not even a real coffee drinker," said Thomas, who is Stock's brother-in-law.

Jackie Kelley, who lives outside Hagerstown, said she enjoyed the food from one of her favorite restaurants, Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill, and found a new restaurant she enjoyed, Bulls and Bears, opening on Potomac Street in downtown Hagerstown.

"I haven't tasted anything that wasn't good," Kelley said.

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