Annandale is known as the “Crossroads of Northern Virginia”. While that speaks to its history (Little River Turnpike was the first highway through the area), it also speaks to the present day. Annandale can feel overshadowed by the surrounding areas, and you may occasionally hear people complain about our town. Yes, it’s a mish-mosh of cultures, neighborhoods and businesses, but truly, that’s one of the things that makes it such a great place to live!
As long time residents, we are fans of our town, and so is 38 year resident Bob Kahane. Bob is Vice President of the Annandale Rotary Club, and the man behind the Taste of Annandale (TofA) for the last 4 years. If there was ever anyone who believes that Annandale has something to offer, it’s Bob. If you were to ask outsiders what they know about Annandale, it’s usually the plethora of Korean restaurants, or more recently, The Block, the consistently crowded and delicious food hall. But Annandale is more than just these two great things, and Bob and the Taste of Annandale team have worked hard over the years to showcase Annandale’s strengths. Their efforts are paying off!
TofA Past and Present
I recently sat down with Bob to get his thoughts on the TofA, and his hopes for the future of the event. Bob is proud of the growth of the Taste of Annandale over the years, and how the sterring committee has worked hard to make it an event that people want to come back to. Started by the Annandale Mason Roundtable (AMR) with the goal to provide education and community appreciation of the diversity of Annandale,TofA is meeting its goals. The annual Fall event, a joint effort between AMR, Fairfax County Police Department, Department of Community and Neighborhood Services, the ACCA Child Development Center, and Fairfax County Communities of Trust Committee, provides an opportunity for those in our community to appreciate each other by sharing in ethnic foods, entertainment, and meeting as one common event that spans all ages. Crowds have grown by 10% year over year, with more than 6500 people attending this past year!
In the early days it was hard to get restaurants to participate. In 2019, there were 8 food trucks, 16 food vendors and 2 beer brew houses! What growth! In addition there was also 20 non-food community vendors (churches, schools, craft guilds, galleries, etc). We were able to enjoy foods from all over the world, sample some new beers, see performances from different cultures, and let our kids play in the imaginative kids area. Local businesses, like ours, are proud to support/ sponsor the event.
TofA Impact on the Community
Funds raised from TofA go to the betterment of the Annandale-Mason community. Some funds raised through TofA have been used to support The Arts Project and Peacebuilders. The Arts project provides scholarships to individual students pursuing the study of art, as well as grants for community art projects. Additionally, proceeds from the event went to the Open Peacebuilding and Leadership (OPL) 2019 Conference held in December. The OPL mission is to empower local youth to become community leaders and peacebuilders through equipping them with the necessary skills to set up their own initiatives. The conference provided a great opportunity for youth to build and sustain useful skills they can use in their academics, extracurriculars, and life in general.