A celebration of diversity

At least 3,000 people of all ages and backgrounds enjoyed great food and entertainment at the Taste of Annandale Oct. 1.

The day started off rainy, as more than 60 runners took part in the Taste of Annandale 5K along the muddy trails in Mason District Park. But the weather continued to clear throughout the day as people lined up at the food vendors and enjoyed lunch under a tent.

The ACCA Children Development Center was packed all day, as the activities originally scheduled for the center’s playground – puppet shows, music, stories, crafts, and games – were moved inside.

More than 300 votes were cast in the Chili Cook-Off. The winner, the Annandale Fire Volunteer Department’s B shift won, beating the Mason Police District’s bike patrol unit, and will keep the huge trophy until the next Taste of Annandale.

Hungry Annandaleans had a choice of Korean, Ethiopian, Argentinian, Peruvian, Jamaican, Mediterranean, and American food, while performers represented the cultures of Peru, India, China, Bolivia, and the South Pacific.

“We celebrate diversity not as a weakness but as a strength,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly at the opening ceremony. “Annandale is one of the most diverse parts of Fairfax County, which itself is very diverse. We get stronger because of that diversity.”

“We love this community and we want to see it grow stronger,” Connolly said.

“Fairfax County is a very, very diverse community,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova. “That’s one of our greatest assets, and right here in Annandale you can really see the diversity big time and all the great things our diversity brings to us – wonderful restaurants, wonderful small businesses, a wonderful, wonderful community.”

The Taste of Annandale celebrates the Annandale’s small business community, as well as its restaurants, said Del. Marcus Simon. In addition to the food vendors, nearly 30 local businesses – real estate agents, private schools, banks, nonprofits, and others – had booths or otherwise supported the event.

“I love Annandale. It’s a small part of my district but it’s absolutely my favorite part,” Simon said.

Early voting has started, noted school board member Sandy Evans, as she urged residents to be sure to vote during this election season and to “be thoughtful” about the meals tax referendum that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. The Mason District Democratic Committee registered more than a dozen voters during the event.

“I’m a historical figure now, with the road named after me,” said former congressman and supervisor Tom Davis, referring to the location of the Taste of Annandale on Tom Davis Drive. He spoke about his strong roots in the community, noting that his children went to Belvedere Elementary, Glasgow Middle School, and Stuart and Thomas Jefferson high schools.

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross invited the audience to visit the pop-up park, a tiny, temporary spot of greenery with plants and chairs hosted by the Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization to encourage public engagement.

Gross shared a quote from President Obama’s meeting with the U.S. Olympic team. “The team, like the nation itself, is more than the sum of its parts,” Obama said. “All races, all faiths, all traditions, all orientations, all marching together under that same proud flag. Not bound by a creed or a color but by our devotion to our enduring set of ideals that we are all created equal, that we can think and worship and love as we please and we can pursue our own version of happiness. That’s a great gift, That’s what makes us strong.”

“Although he was talking about the U.S. Olympic team,” Gross said, “he could have been talking about Annandale.”

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