Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Time for Tastes of Takoma

Columbia Union College gears up for eighth-annual festival with new vendors and entertainers

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A rock-climbing wall and new food vendors will appear at this year’s Tastes of Takoma festival alongside the live music and diverse community booths that have defined the student-run event at Columbia Union College for nearly a decade.

‘‘This year I think is going to be the biggest year because we have a lot of new stuff,” said director Megan Pagado, a junior at Columbia Union. ‘‘This is really a family-friendly event put on by students from a family-friendly college.”

The festival, now in its eighth year, is run by public relations students at the college in order to give them the experience of organizing, publicizing and putting on an event. This year it coincides with Columbia Union’s alumni weekend, which will include a concert and several lectures that are free and open to the public.

Food vendors and information booths at this year’s festival will be accompanied by children’s activities such as face painting, a petting zoo and a moon bounce, said Andre Hardy, a junior who serves as food management coordinator.

Many restaurants from Takoma Park and Silver Spring that have been anchors in previous years, such as Lebanese Taverna, Middle East Market and Savory Café, will sell food again, Hardy said.

Also returning is Hyattsville-based Angeles Festival Food, which manager Robert Moore said will offer a variety of American southern cuisine, including funnel cakes, southern fried chicken, Cajun fried fish and New Orleans-style sausages.

Moore said he always enjoys greeting the crowds from Angeles’ purple and white booth and trying to out-do the other vendors.

‘‘We like the controversy, we like the competition, and we definitely like meeting different people,” he said.

One of the new vendors at this year’s festival is Kefa Café, which part-owner Lene Tsegaye said will sell an array of coffee, pastries, and — weather permitting — Italian ice.

‘‘The nice thing about it is it’s on a Sunday,” she said. ‘‘It’s a community gathering and it’s nice to be out with extended family.”

At one booth, sponsoring organization Washington Adventist Hospital will offer free health screenings, nutrition advice and health brochures. At others, the Girl Scouts of America, the Takoma-Langley Rotary Club and Compassion Over Killing, an animal rights organization, will hand out information.

While food takes the center stage, entertainment also plays a part in the annual festival.

The Young Lions, Duane Starling and Terrence Wiles will provide live music throughout the day while the Acro-Airs, Columbia Union’s acrobatic team, will perform high-flying drills and other acrobatic feats.

As a grand finale, the Acro-Airs will perform again at 6 p.m. in the college’s gymnasium. Tickets to that performance are $5 in advance, $7 at the door.

Alumni from Columbia Union have also been invited for a weekend of bus tours, dinners and get-togethers. In addition to alumni-only events, a Friday night lecture series and a Saturday night concert will be open to the public. The concert, to be held 7:30 p.m. in the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church on Carroll Avenue, will be headlined by Christian recording artist and class of ’93 Columbia Union alumni John Stoddart, who plays piano.

The G. Arthur Keough lecture series will take place 6:30 p.m. Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Richards Hall Chapel and feature professors from Virginia Commonwealth University discussing the history and politics of religion. A panel discussion will follow each lecture.

If you go

Tastes of Takoma will be held noon to 6 p.m. Sunday rain or shine at Columbia Union College, 7600 Flower Ave. The event is free and parking is available at the college.