Dozens of people went on a noshing tour of downtown Hagerstown Thursday night, sampling the cuisine from a dozen restaurants, caterers and organizations, while being serenaded by vocalists and musicians.
It was the second outing for “Taste of the Arts,” first held two years ago, said Charles Sekula, the manager at Schmankerl Stube on South Potomac Street.
There, ticket buyers for the event were treated to spätzel, curry wurst and stroganoff at sidewalk tables, while singers from the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts performed arias.
The spicy aroma of Elois Jenkins’ gumbo led many people to her table in front of The Maryland Theatre.
“I really enjoyed her gumbo. It was spicy, but not too much,” said Allan Bare of Hagerstown. “And she had a chicken salad, as well, that was excellent.”
Pineapple, apples and a New Orleans spiced mayonnaise were some of the ingredients of the salad, said Jenkins, the owner of Gumbo-Elois Catering.
“I’m a Katrina survivor,” Jenkins said.
After the 2005 hurricane, Jenkins took a roundabout journey before arriving in Hagerstown in 2007, she said.
“What I’ve been enjoying is all the ethnicities of the food,” Bare said, having also sampled a veggie wrap outside Jassmin Coffee on West Washington Street.
“This is our third stop, and I’m full,” said Deb Danner of Hagerstown, who was with Bare.
They wanted to save some room for desserts provided by The Plum and The Gourmet Goat a few doors away at the Washington County Arts Council.
Rob Hovermale, the supervisor of fine arts for Washington County Public Schools, played “Imagine” on keyboards inside the council gallery. He’s a member of Staff Infection, a band made up of county educators.
Tickets were $20. More than 125 had been purchased before the event, and more were being sold Thursday evening, said Mimi Dickinson, director of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation.
Proceeds from the event benefited the foundation, the arts council and The Maryland Theatre, she said.
“We did this two years ago, and hopefully, if we have to wait another two years, we’ll see a lot more restaurants and shops downtown,” said Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.
He cited the proposed downtown multiuse sports ands events center and the reopening next year of the Washington County Free Library as projects that could attract more business and people downtown.
“It’s been a perfect night to be walking downtown,” said Anne Weimer, who complimented the fish tacos at Bulls & Bears on South Potomac Street.
“And it’s a very nice venue for the students,” said Paige Nitzell of Hagerstown of the Barbara Ingram students.