South-ern: adjective \ˈsə-thərn\
A state of mind.
See also: fried chicken, sweat tea, football, beer, cowboy hats, bourbon, guitars, magnolias, good manners, tradition, hospitable, bless your heart.
Southern hospitality and long-standing traditions are ingrained in those of us born in the south. Growing up southern is, indeed a state of mind. A once small celebration of displaced southerners started 32 years ago has taken on a life of its own – and has become one of the most anticipated events each year.
This Saturday’s Taste of the South was a celebration of all things southern and for this first-time attendee, made for a very happy Texan. Southerners and friends donned their designer gowns, bow-ties and cowboy boots at the gala at the Washington Hilton.
Hosting TOTS at the Hilton was an upgrade in terms of dance floor space, which many of the 2,000 attendees took advantage of, dancing to a mix of blues, jazz and greatest hits.
The ballroom also offered plenty of space for all 13 participating states to show their state pride via swag and tasty treats. Some Highlights:
Kentucky, the featured state and fresh off their Kentucky/Louisville basketball showdown, brought some Louisville Sluggers.
Louisiana didn’t disappoint with jambalaya from Bayou DC and that undeniable Cajun flair.
South Carolina loves their koozies.
Tennessee provided the Moon Pies – of which I ate my weight (noshame).
Cases of Cheerwine made it for the festivities from North Carolina.
But what made this homesick Texan’s night – Whataburger ketchup.
And of course I stocked up on my Aggie gear. Gig ‘EM!
But it’s not just an awesome party. Southerners have a streak of giving – and this year nearly $40,000 was raised for charity through ticket sales and silent auction bids. The featured charities for 2014 are the West End School in Louisville, Kentucky which provides free, private college-prep education for at-risk men, and the DC/MD/VA Chapter of The Lupus Foundation of America, an organization dedicated to finding solving the mystery of lupus. Twelve additional charities across the southern states will also receive a portion of the proceeds.
And I have to give a mention to Rent the Runway where I got this fab Nanette Lapore dress for the evening.