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Council for the Arts Celebrates 20 Years

This year’s Annual Taste of the Town is also a celebration for Council of the Arts' 20th anniversary.

The Council for the Arts of Herndon has dedicated its 14th annual Taste of the Town to be the official celebration for the group's 20-year anniversary.

Themed "How Sweet It Is...", the event will showcase local restaurants and celebrities and offer numerous prizes for bidding during the live and silent auctions.

"We've decided to play up the desserts this year," said Maureen Ryan, executive director, Council for the Arts of Herndon. "It's a birthday party, but the proceeds directly benefit our programs."

Ryan explained through the course of the evening patrons will have the opportunity to sample food from more than 20 restaurants and feed sweet tooths with everything from Dairy Queen and Cold Stone Creamery's frozen treats to a chocolate fountain provided by the Chocolate Chick.

As the largest fund-raiser for the organization, Ryan said it is casual and offers the opportunity for people to sample menus from restaurants like Charlie Chiang's, Joe's Hot Dog House and the new Mediterranean Breeze opening on Station Street.

"Herndon has signature events," said Grace Wolf, president Council for the Arts of Herndon. "What's nice about the Herndon community is it looks forward to these events."

IN ADDITION to showcasing local restaurants and businesses at Worldgate, the board of directors has also recruited live entertainment as well as county and local officials to participate as celebrity volunteers.

To help with the live auction, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly will act as the head auctioneer.

Connolly will be auctioning off everything from VIP passes to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and a "full year of health" complete with a one-year free membership to Gold's Gym and a year's supply of GNC multivitamins to the “most unusual” according to Wolf, a proclamation by the Town Council to designate a day named after the highest bidder.

In addition, former mayor and current state delegate, Tom Rust has been invited along with current Town Council members, former and current Dranesville District Supervisors and School Board members and other professionals active in Herndon's day-to-day business.

"This is a great example of how individuals, corporations and business professionals come together to participate in something that increases the quality of life in Herndon," said Wolf.

Last year the group — a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts as the town's official arts agency — was able to raise approximately $20,000 through the event.

This year, Ryan said, they have set a goal of $15,000.

Ryan said all of the proceeds will go toward the council's programs, which promote arts in the community for people of all ages.

EXISTING PROGRAMS either sponsored or promoted by the council include Herndon Lights Up the Holidays, Youth Art Month, Children's Hands on Art at the Herndon Festival, among other things.

In addition the group provides scholarships for area students interested in pursuing the arts.

The group also sponsors the Arts in Public Places program and gives grants to local arts groups like Herndon High School's drama department and the Towne Square Singers — both recipients of this year's $9,000 combined scholarships.

In addition, Ryan said this year the group has increased its arts outreach by piloting a Technologies and the Arts scholarship program with Cox Communications and SAIC, and has received 200 applications.

The group is also preparing to offer summer sessions with the Smithsonian Institution, where experts will come to Herndon to hold various seminars.

"The money we offer every year changes depending on how much we raise at our various fund raisers," said Ryan. "That's why fundraisers like Taste of the Town is so important."

Tickets are currently on sale and are $15 for members, $20 for the general public or free with a donation.

For information about the event, to preorder tickets, make a donation, volunteer or to learn how to become a member visit www.herndonarts.org or call 703-689-9535.