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Time is ripe for this year's Taste of Westmoreland

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 6:21 p.m.
Tribune-Review file
Patrons pick from a variety of food at a previous Taste of Westmoreland.

For Ginny Vayda of Greensburg, a great night out can be summed up briefly: “Food, friends and fun.” That's how she describes the Taste of Westmoreland, an annual event that she has attended faithfully since its inception.

“I've been to every single one,” she says. “It's become a tradition.”

She'll attend for the 22nd time March 15, when the popular event will be in Chambers Hall at the Pitt-Greensburg campus. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend.

The Taste of Westmoreland is an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring approximately 25 local restaurants and caterers. Each will set up a booth in the gymnasium, and diners will walk around choosing what they like from appetizers to entrees, salads and desserts. Seating is at spacious tables in the adjacent dining room. Bottled water, soda and alcoholic beverages will be sold for a small fee.

Participating restaurants include perennial favorites such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Texas Roadhouse along with more recent participants including Faranda's Farm, Moe's Southwest Grill and Applebee's.

Event co-chairman Robert Slone has been involved with the Taste in some capacity every year since it began. “Everybody likes to eat and find new places to eat,” he says. “This gives people a chance to see 25 different places at once.”

Available food will include ribs, wings, pizza, pasta, salads, ice cream, cake, cupcakes and chocolates.

One of the more unusual offerings this year will be presented by Faranda's Farm, a family farm in Hollsopple. Because the farm is known for its annual garlic festival in August, owner Philip Faranda will offer garlic pretzels for the Taste. “You can't stop eating them,” he says.

Faranda will be participating in the event for the second time. “It's a lot of fun,” he says. “You meet lots of people and you get lots of positive feedback.”

For the gregarious Vayda, one of the best parts of the event is its social aspect. “It's a great place to meet friends and make friends. It's a really fun activity,” she says. “It's high energy.”

That energy is fueled in part by the numerous door prizes and auction offerings available throughout the evening. This year's silent-auction items include tickets for Steelers, Penguins and Pirates games, golf packages, chocolate, jewelry and an overnight stay at the Ramada among others. The Chinese auction features themed gift baskets from local businesses. Tribune-Review cartoonist Randy Bish will draw caricatures for a small donation.

Every ticketholder who brings a nonperishable food item for the Westmoreland County Food Bank will receive one free ticket for the Chinese auction. The event is a fundraiser for Greensburg's Congregation Emanu-El Israel in addition to providing food for the Westmoreland County Food Bank.

Tickets can be purchased in Greensburg at the Chocolate Shoppe, DeGennaro's restaurant, Giant Eagle and Shop 'n Save; in Jeannette at Mama G's Diner; in Irwin at the Norwin Chamber of Commerce; and in Latrobe at Rose Style Shoppe, Giant Eagle and Shop 'n Save.

Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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