The Washington Hilton can feel like the gold standard for social events in Washington. The home of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the Washington Humane Society’s Bark Ball, the storied venue is an indication you can sell tickets. A lot of them.
Taste of the South moved to the hotel this year from DAR Constitution Hall and had no problem filling the extra space. Organizers expected 2,100 attendees to pack the ballroom — netting $400,000 for charity. (West End School in Louisville, Ky., was this year’s featured charity.)
In Washington, where fundraisers are a dime a dozen, what elevates an event to sold out Hilton status?
Nearly 100 percent participation from the southern congressional delegation helps — although none we knew were in attendance. However, their staffs more than made up for the missing representatives.
If the White House Correspondence Dinner is officially “Nerd Prom,” then TOTS has earned the title of “Hill Prom.”
“Oh it’s absolutely prom without the corsages,” joked Emily Wilkes, a Texas native.
A little harmless exploitation of southern homesickness also helps. As does a half-dozen varieties of barbecue and a lot of booze.
An informal poll and line observations indicated Texas and the buffalo mac n’ cheese from Bullfeathers a clear winner of state offerings. Although the swag from South Carolina was another crowd favorite — most notably blow-up animals that made their way to the dance floor in the late hours.
— Cara Ann Kelly (@CaraReports) March 30, 2014
The giant floor may have been the best upgrade, with plenty of space to dance to the requisite “Carolina Girls” and “Rocky Top.” But bar lines were painfully long even as guests started wobbling out toward their Ubers.
Although we’re guessing that won’t affect ticket sales much for Hill Prom 2015.