'Taste of Manchester' benefits MDOG

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Thu., Apr. 7, 2011
Cindy Craddock sampled the pulled pork sandwich and tortellini alfredo vegetable medley at the Hungry Tiger during the Taste of Manchester. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Cindy Craddock sampled the pulled pork sandwich and tortellini alfredo vegetable medley at the Hungry Tiger during the Taste of Manchester. Photos by Annie Gentile.

The Taste of Manchester event held on Tuesday, April 5, was proof positive that raising money can be a delicious exercise.

Co-chaired by Chris Rusack and Dennis Reinholt, the second annual event went a long way in helping the non-profit Manchester Dog Owners Group (MDOG) to reach its $40,000 fundraising goal to build a dog park in town.

Rusack, who started the event last year, is involved with MDOG, which has been working toward not only building the park, but also increasing activities for pet owners in town and in providing educational information on responsible dog ownership. Rusack said the group started kicking around ideas for a fundraiser last year, and he felt the Taste of Manchester event could not only help with fundraising, but also draw attention to Manchester’s downtown area.

“We have a great downtown, but it’s not always that visible,” said Rusack. “I thought this would be a way to better promote downtown area restaurants and show off how great the area really is.”

Rusack approached restaurant owners with the idea, and last year eight came on board. This year, the participation increased to 11 restaurants.

The Taste of Manchester Committee, which is comprised of about 20 individuals, created a punch-style ticket. Participants checked in at the “Grand Central Station” of the event – the Army Navy Club on Main Street– to pick up their tickets and get their first punch. Then they were free to walk, drive, or take a complimentary Abbey Road transport bus to either the Main Street route of restaurants, the Hartford Road route, or to transition from one route to the next, getting their tickets punched at each restaurant.

Two after-parties – at the Main Pub and the Hartford Road Café – provided participants a place to gather in celebration afterwards, and where the 50/50 raffle winners were announced.

The participating restaurants were still open for regular business, and typically the tastings were set up like a happy hour, with separate serving stations and volunteers on hand to punch tickets.

“The town allocated us land about two years ago behind the Water Department [near the Globe Hollow recreation area] and gave us until the fall of 2011 to break ground,” Rusack said about the dog park. “This fundraiser is pretty much our big last push and we’re confident it will happen.”

With this year’s event likely putting the fundraising over the top, it could easily mean the end of Taste of Manchester, but Rusack said their group has loftier ideas.

“This started as an MDOG fundraiser, but it’s transitioning to a community fundraiser,” he said. “We’re looking forward to reaching out to other charities in the future.”


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