Attendees eat up ‘Taste of the Town’

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published May 4, 2016

 Chef Rick Raimondo, part of All About Catering, makes chicken quesadillas.

Chef Rick Raimondo, part of All About Catering, makes chicken quesadillas.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The  Clinton-Macomb Public Library’s fifth annual “Taste of the Town” was its biggest event yet.

Library Director Larry Neal said the fundraiser, which took place April 22 at the Main Library, was part of a record-breaking year that drew more than 350 estimated guests and raised about $12,500.

Last year’s event was attended by a little more than 300 guests and raised about $12,000.

Neal said some people come year after year, while he also saw a dichotomy in age between children and adults — which he said was a positive mix moving forward.

“We were delighted,” Neal said. “Each year we get a few more attendees and that certainly is wonderful.”

The event took place from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and featured carnival-themed festivities, ranging from a strolling dinner featuring 20 different restaurants and food vendors to acrobats, magicians, fortune tellers, a gaming midway, 50-50 raffles and a cash bar.

Planning for the annual event is a lengthy process that is aided by a local resident and event planner, who helps coordinate restaurants and vendors. 

This year was a little different, though.

Usually the library resorts to an evening complete with a concert and dancing, whereas this year an acrobatic circus show wowed guests. 

Money raised during the event allows staff to attend the Family Place training workshop, which helps parents and families focus on early literacy skills. Family Place uses national best practices to safeguard library programs — and the entire library environment in general — that are aiding individuals to see their full potential, which benefits both entities. 

The money aids in supplementing the Family Place philosophy at the main library, as well as the South and North branches.

“We’re trying to ensure that kids are ready to start school and kindergarten,” Neal said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as toys we’re putting out in different areas, but they’re not randomly selected. They’re selected for a purpose because they show colors or identify shapes.”

The welcoming environment improves interaction among children, as well as kids and their parents or grandparents.

Family Place also lends itself to causes that include bringing more people into the library, performing hearing testing and helping those struggling with literacy.

The program is offered a couple of times per year, with the last time being this past December. During the “tough budget years,” as Neal put it, money went toward children’s projects like materials.

The library committee who sets up the annual event usually takes a couple of weeks to catch its collective breath before getting started on planning for the next year. Though, after five years and seeing a bigger mixture of children and adults, Taste of the Town is certainly on the upswing.

“First-timers are great. We’re trying to get (more) people to come and experience the building itself,” Neal said. “It’s a beautiful place and is used in a different format.”

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