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Residents get sampling of food, local art at annual Taste of Thomson fundraiser

They were traveling to an RV show, but stopped along the way for the art show in Thomson. Last week, John and Pat Long traveled from their home near Lancaster, Penn., heading to Perry, Ga.

"And we were just traveling through, and the lady at the welcome center gave us a brochure, and we saw it on there," Mr. Long said as he and his wife looked at the art in the Depot. "We like to go to shows like this everywhere we go, so we decided to camp in Appling and do this. It's beautiful country here."

The Longs were part of more than 200 other visitors who attended the annual Taste of Thomson for the American Heart Association last Thursday night. Organizers said the event was a big success.

"It went real well, and it's because of a bunch of folks working together really well," said Chamber of Commerce Director Carolyn Gilbert. "This group works together. Nobody tries to outshine the other. And it couldn't be done without the participation of the caterers and artists."

The floor of the Depot was filled with local caterers serving their specialties and the walls in both the Depot and the Annex were covered with the talent of local artists. And every seat was filled at the dining tables in the breezeway and the Annex.

"I love it. This is my first one, and I hope the first of many more art shows in Thomson," Kay Coleman said as she browsed the art. "It's a real eclectic group, and that Joyce Blevins (art) has been fooling me, she's good. I just came to the Taste of Thomson, and the art was a surprise. And the music, it's a treat. So if the food is anything like this, then I'm in for a real treat."

Ms. Gilbert said the event brought in over $3,500 for the American Heart Association.

"I just think this is one of the most special things ever, and I love it that it's for such a good cause," said Clois Witt of Thomson. "And all the participation from the caterers and artists is great."

Thirteen caterers had their own table at the event, for which they donated their food and service, and handed out samples of everything from quail legs in blueberry sauce and cheese patè, to desserts like 7-Up cake and brownies to Southern cooking like barbecue, fried chicken and cabbage.

"Oh yeah, it gives me the opportunity to meet new potential customers," said Jarvis McNair, the owner of Poppa's Barbecue. "At the same time, it's not so much the potential customers, but it's my way of giving back and donating to the American Heart Association. You can't take all the time and not give back."

Works of several local artists were on display, showing a broad array of talents in paintings and drawings, sculpture and photography. One of the artists was the famous equine painter, Larry Dodd Wheeler, who has a client list, according to his website, "that reads like a Who's Who in the world of thoroughbred horses."

Mr. Wheeler, who makes his home in Washington, Ga., said he enjoyed this show because he got to see the works of other artists. The former art teacher-turned-pro said he was especially impressed with the works of 10-year-old Lilly Young.

"I think her work is incredible for her age," he said. "I was struggling at her age, but her work is fabulous."

Lilly wasn't at the show, so Mr. Wheeler wrote her a note on the back of one of his business cards, and stuck it in the frame of one of her pictures.

Dearing's Jim McGaw provided the background music inside the Annex with his hammer dulcimer, and Bill McWaters of Macon played the guitar and harmonica in the breezeway.

"I just think all this is a wonderful thing for Thomson to do," Deborah Rivers said.

Web posted on Thursday, March 20, 2008

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