Food takes center stage at festival

University Yard traded in its usual crowd of twenty-something college kids for about 200 parents, children and business owners during Alumni Weekend’s first annual Taste of GW and Family Carnival on Saturday.

The event hosted nine vendors from local D.C. restaurants owned or operated by GW alumni and regular student spots like Tonic and Wasabi Sushi. In addition to samples from local eateries, alumni and their families enjoyed live music and recreation for their children, including moon bounces, cotton candy and balloon animals.

“It allows alumni to come and market,” said Karen White, senior director of Alumni Relations. “It’s a wonderful promotional opportunity to have in conjunction with a family carnival.”

Eric Hirshfield, a 1992 graduate, said GW contacted him through Facebook to come to Alumni Weekend and promote his U Street restaurant, Duplex Diner. Though he came back to campus primarily for the event, he said being at GW made him nostalgic for his undergraduate days. “Every time I come back here I see where my tuition money went,” said Hirshfield of the changing GW campus. “It seems like [the Alumni Association] is doing a lot this year. It’s like a new era of alumni weekends.”

GW memories also ran deep for Henry Steiner, an 1989 graduate of the Elliott School of International Affairs, who attended the carnival with his wife and two children.

“It’s interesting to be back,” he said. “The last time I was in this quad, I’m pretty sure there were a bunch of kegs in it for Greek Week.”

Accompanying the burgers and similar food provided from vendors such as Founding Farmers and Duplex Diner were Cakes by Happy Eatery, a pastry shop operated by 1989 alumnus Victoria Wu, who was thankful to be promoting at the event.

“It’s great to get back to your roots a little bit,” she said. “It really is a great university. You many not apply all that you learn immediately, but it definitely stays with you for a lifetime.”

Kerry Lynn Bohen, a 1980 graduate, said being at the event helped her once again appreciate GW and its student body.

“It’s cool to see what everyone is up to. It’s impressive,” she said. “GW has a reputation for being a school without a campus. But being back, you realize there’s a special feel to it that makes it a community.”

One of the liveliest sampling tables at the carnival belonged to the Town Tavern, a bar in Adam’s Morgan owned by 2004 alumnus Gracie Lhee, who opened the place last January during Inauguration weekend.

“This is the best way to meet up with all my old classmates and reminisce about old times,” Lhee said.

“I’ve seen a lot of my fellow Colonial Cabinet members at this event,” said Lhee, who worked on CI in 2002. “Our year was all about GW pride.”

Hirshfield, sporting an “I heart Thurston” pin, asked Lhee if she would go on the weekend’s tour of the freshmen dorm later that day.

“Thurston?” Lhee said to Hirshfield. “No thanks.”

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