Rotary’s Taste of Farmville — good taste for a good cause

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Farmville Rotary Club’s Taste of Farmville event is all about community. Set in late January and billed as an after-work evening out, the fundraiser features a number of civic clubs and organizations, each offering a taste of a culinary favorite. The benefit doesn’t end there — the Rotary Club uses the proceeds to fund community programs throughout the year.

“The event has continued to grow every year,” Rotary President Jeff Sargent said. “From our fundraisers we make donations to the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Homes, FACES, Meals on Wheels, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Heart of Virginia Free Clinic.”  

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The timing of the event for late January is intentional.

“It’s kind of a dead time of the year, and this brings people out after the holidays,” Rotarian Jeff Smith, coordinator of the first event, said. “Having it on a Thursday night right after work takes the pressure off people.”

“Everyone seems to appreciate that this is a casual event,” Rotarian Kerby Moore said. “Farmville has plenty of dress-up and black-tie events.”

Organizations that participate in the Taste of Farmville donate both time and food.

“They get to show off what they can do,” Smith said in a

2013 Herald feature. “And the non-profits can get out and talk to people about what they do as well.”

The Taste of Farmville actually started on a much smaller scale in 2004.

“We only had eight or ten cooks that first year,” Moore said. “It was called the Celebrity Cook-off — every cook was a celebrity!”

The first event held at Fuqua School had an attendance of about 100.

Attendance has grown with each succeeding year, enabling the Rotary Club to expand its reach.

“We recently made a donation to PEFYA (Prince Edward Farmville Youth Association) basketball which included new practice basketballs and game balls, new practice jerseys and a rolling storage bin for the balls,” Sargent said.  “We also sponsor the Prince Edward representatives to Boys and Girls State.  This spring we will be giving away books to all second graders in Prince Edward and Cumberland. We will go into the classroom, read the book and give one to each child to take home.  This is our second year for this project, which we hope to make an annual service project. 

“We also purchased eight tablets for Beyond the Numbers (a Longwood mentoring group) and bought Christmas presents for Head Start kids,” Rotarian Sue V. Carter said.

“We have two other major fundraisers, a Pancake Breakfast coming in April and the Beer Fest in September,” Sargent said. “We raise money to be used locally, but as Rotarians we also contribute to the Rotary Foundation, an international charity that supplies communities with clean water, aids in disaster relief, improves education, promotes peace and continues the fight to eradicate polio.”

The January fundraiser is a good start to the Rotary Club’s fundraising efforts. The Taste of Farmville has, in fact, evolved into exactly what the organization envisioned.

“When we started planning this, Jeff Smith said he wanted something casual — come right after work, bring the kids, it’s not going to break the bank and it’s for a good cause kind of event,” Moore said. “I think this is just what the town needed. It’s a laid-back event where people can come to taste different foods and have a good time. The Taste of Farmville is a win-win for everybody; it’s the best event in town.”

The Farmville community would seem to agree — one Taste of Farmville is never enough.