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Annual 'Taste of Longview' event set for Tuesday

By Amy Pearson
March 26, 2014 at 10 p.m.

For 32 years, Longview residents have snacked, sipped and supped their way to a good time at the annual Taste of Longview.

No one will be fooling around Tuesday as dozens of restaurants and beverage companies join forces for an evening of delicious fun, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

"It gets a little bigger every year," said Carolyn Ramirez, one of the event organizers.

Taste of Longview is co-sponsored by the East Texas Restaurant Association and the Pilot Club of Longview.

"Area restaurants bring in their speciality foods," Ramirez said. "Cace's always brings oysters on the half shell, and I get my fix!"

Cace's owner, Cathy Cace, and manager, Chelsea Cace, also members of the restaurant association, recruit restaurants for the event while the Pilot Club handles event logistics.

The two entities split the proceeds from the evening.

The Pilot Club of Longview returns funds raised through the Taste to organizations such as The Alzheimer's Association, Unforgettable Tuesdays Day Club (a weekly respite care program for persons with dementia), Miracle League of East Texas (barrier-free baseball program for children with disabilities), Mountain High Retreat and Circle of Friends (camps for brain injury survivors), Project Lifesaver (tracking program in Gregg County for persons with "wandering" diseases such as Alzheimer's and autism), Adopt a School Program (Ware Elementary), Anchor clubs in Longview and Kilgore High Schools and Judson Middle School, Longview Community Ministries, Arc of Gregg County and Windridge Equestrian Center.

The East Texas Restaurant Association serves, educates and promotes excellence in the local food and beverage industry. The ETRA returns its portion of the funds raised to the community by providing education and scholarships to people seeking careers in the restaurant and hospitality fields.

The theme for this year's event is "Mardi Gras."

"We know it's past that time, but everyone still loves Mardi Gras," Ramirez said.

Some restaurants, like Johnny Cace's Seafood & Steak, have participated each year.

This will be Popcorn Gallery's first time to participate.

Rhonda Roberts opened Popcorn Gallery in June and is "absolutely looking forward to" the event.

"I'd attended several times before I even opened a business," she said. "This will be a good opportunity to network, see the up-and-coming businesses as well as the ones with longevity in our community and hopefully to meet some new clients."

Roberts will be bringing the Popcorn Gallery's No. 1 bestseller: Zebra popcorn, a sea salt and caramel concoction drizzled with white and milk chocolates. She'll also bring the Loaded Baked Potato flavor and some other surprises.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Children ages 4-10 are admitted for $6. No trays or box lids are allowed into the event.

Raffle tickets will be sold for $1 each for a chance to win gift certificates from Planet Beach for tanning, Jim Bartlett Fine Jewelry, Dillard's, Kilgore Tire, Good Shepherd Institute for Healthy Living and dinners from Longview restaurants.

Advance tickets are available at A#1 Trophies & Plaques, Camera Shop Hallmark, Manpower, Johnny Cace's Seafood & Steakhouse, Spring Hill State Bank, Topp Office Supply and Texas Bank & Trust.



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