(Front row, far right): Chelsee Woodey, IDFA director of legislative affairs and chairwoman of the Taste of the South
This year’s Taste of the South gala fundraiser in Washington, D.C., proved it truly was “A Show Unlike Any Other” by raising more than $500,000 for charities in 13 southern states. Chelsee Woodey, IDFA director of legislative affairs and a native of Kentucky, chaired this year’s event, which drew 2,100 Southern transplants, foodies, Hill staffers and lobbyists to the Washington Hilton last Saturday night.
Tickets for the event sold out in three hours, setting a new record in the gala’s 33-year history. At one point, more than 700 people had added their names to the waiting list, hoping for a chance to sample the outstanding Southern cuisine and drinks, join the fun on the dance floor and barter for the popular state-themed giveaways, which always disappear early.
“As Taste of the South’s 2015 chairwoman, I am very proud of the work this year’s committee accomplished,” said Woodey. “Thanks to our generous sponsors, like IDFA, and the hard work of our 13 southern states, we surpassed our fundraising goal; we are honored to give Camp Happy Days in South Carolina a very generous donation from Taste of the South. And as an added bonus, we threw the best TOTS party yet, truly a show unlike any other.”
The Taste of the South was founded in 1982 by a group of transplanted Southerners who lived in Washington, D.C., but missed the rich traditions, food and libations from their home states. The first gala was held the following year, and the proceeds were donated to a southern-based charity. Since then the event has grown into a must-attend for local Southerners and a growing number of Hill staffers, and the charitable donations have continued to grow as well.
This year’s featured charity was Camp Happy Days of Charleston, S.C. The camp offers support and encouragement to children with cancer and their families by providing free programs, events and resources throughout the year. Smaller donations also will be given to a variety of charities in all the participating states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
To enhance exposure for the gala, the group also hosted a Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill earlier last week. The Taste of the South’s Congressional Host Committee includes the delegations of the 13 southern states who lend their support to the TOTS fundraising efforts. This year’s Congressional Reception had some special guests from Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey including the ringmaster, two clowns and a stilts walker. Many representatives and senators joined them in welcoming donors including Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a friend of the dairy industry.
IDFA has been a long time sponsor of Taste of the South and is proud to annually support these wonderful causes. For more details, contact Woodey at firstname.lastname@example.org.