Taste of Virginia showcases foods and flavors from around the state

ROANOKE, Va. – An event at the Hotel Roanoke Sunday night allowed the public to try all the foods that Virginia has to offer — for free.

The Taste of Virginia featured dozens of food producers and growers from across the commonwealth, as well as their products.

That included Marlon Major’s company, Bent Mountain Salsa, which he started with partner Chris Graham three years ago.

“We believe in our product, and we want to get it to the world,” Major said. “This event is going to take us to a level we’ve never dreamt of.”

The event is an offshoot of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming’s annual conference, which concurrently took place in the hotel.

“Virginia agriculture is just as diverse as its people are," said Brent Wills of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming. "It’s pretty amazing to me to see us all come together and appreciate our local producers.”

The diversity of the goods also impressed Paul Donovan and Brenda Manning, two Taste of Virginia visitors who both recently moved to Roanoke from the Midwest.

“I just think it’s interesting to see what’s made out here that I never thought of," Donovan said. "For example, maple syrup in Virginia is not something I ever would have expected.”

Major says it takes a lot of work for his salsa to stand out among the menu, but he says Virginians’ appetite for local foods will ultimately help him and the rest of the businesses on display.

“They want that fresh stuff. Our salsa has a “Virginia’s Finest” label on it, and they want to see that,” Major said. “Coming here, it’s nice to see other people and talk to them, because they started like us.”

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