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Good Ol’ Southern Hospitality

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By: Brenna Williams

On Saturday night, Taste of the South (TOTS) hosted its 34th charity gala. Since everything tots-related is delightful — tater tots and Toys for Tots are the other obvious examples — it’s become one of the city’s most anticipated events.

Food-based charity events are perfect for those of us who can’t build houses or teach math we don’t understand. The 2000 plus guests celebrated all things alcohol, swag and carbs in the ballroom at the Washington Hilton. Portions of this year’s proceeds will benefit Camp Koinonia in Tennessee and DC-based Dog Tag Inc.   

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This year’s TOTS theme was clearly “Uplighting.” Weddings were forced to go on by candlelight as every available decorative light along the Eastern seaboard was seized in the name of charity.

Just kidding, the theme was “A Southern Wonderland,” even though we can all agree that “Uplighting” would be the most straightforward and easy to nail theme in history.

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Attendees danced and sang the night away. Blue Label played every song you’ve embarrassingly sung along to in the shower, in the car, at your cousin’s wedding and at the alumni bar in your college town. However, nothing is embarrassing when done in black tie, so it was amazing.

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TOTS Pro-tip: Don’t get distracted by the bars, the photo booth or other humans in your way. As soon as you get in the door, beeline it to the swag. Every state booth features all the swag you can grab. They even provide reusable bags!

The swag grab can get a little intense. Like the real south, it is not for the faint of heart. Lest we forget, it’s the land of Strom Thurmond, James Carville and Dolly Parton.

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The clear star of the night is the food. The word TASTE is in the title, after all. Everybody knows that the southern states have ongoing blood feuds over who makes the best mac n’ cheese. The battleground is TOTS.

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TOTS is one of the few events in the District where you can don black tie and scarf down donuts and Papa Johns. (Friday nights in my apartment excluded)

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After carbo-loading and Hunger Games-ing the swag, who wouldn’t need a drink? Have I mentioned yet that the décor is like your sister’s “rustic wedding” Pinterest board on steroids?

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Most importantly, attendees had the opportunity to pay homage to the South’s greatest state.*

*The author is a native Floridian. She will fight you about this.

Any event that helps children and veterans is one we can get behind. Here’s hoping we fully awake from our carb coma in time for next year’s event or, in the meantime, Monday.

Related: Check out our 2016 TOTS Instagram takeover