A taste of France, in Henrico

At last year’s French Food Festival, (left to right) Cheryl Towner, Karyn Cumming, Sister Joseph Marie and “Chef Paul” Elbling were among the festival-goers celebrating France and its cuisine and culture.
Does spring weather bring on a craving to visit with friends at an outdoor cafe as you listen to music, sip wine and nibble French baguettes?

If so, then mark your calendar for April 21 and the Fourth Annual Little Sisters of the Poor French Food Festival.

Featuring French foods, breads, desserts, and chocolate, the festival will also provide live entertainment and a number of children's activities and games. For shoppers, a Parisian Marketplace and boutique area will offer French cookbooks, preserves and other French merchandise.

New this year, the event will boast a Cajun Corner featuring chef Sean Murphy of Lady N’Awlins. And as always, world-renowned chef Paul Elbling will oversee the food at the festival, which is prepared and cooked with the help of a dozen volunteers from the Knights of Columbus.

During last year's event, Chef Paul and his wife, Marie, the founders and former owners of La Petite France, marked their 45th wedding anniversary. Among the guests who congratulated and visited with the Elblings were Cheryl Towner and her daughter, Karyn Cumming, then a Holman Middle School French student (pictured above).

Admission is free, but suggested donations of $2 are appreciated to help defray event costs. All proceeds from the event will benefit the elderly poor who are cared for by the Little Sisters of the Poor at St. Joseph's Home.

For more than 138 years, The Little Sisters of the Poor have provided a home and loving care for Virginia’s elderly poor. In recent years, the rising costs associated with providing geriatric residential care and meeting state and federal licensing guidelines has made it increasingly difficult for the Little Sisters to cover their operating costs, let alone keep up with repairs and maintenance on an aging building.

In 2009, volunteers joined forces with Paul and Marie Elbling to create the festival and raise funds.

The festival will be held April 21 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the grounds of St. Joseph's at 1503 Michael Road. Free parking with convenient access to the festival will be located at the Forest Office Park next door. For information, visit
http://www.lspfrenchfoodfestival.com or call 288-6245.

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The Saint Gertrude Alumnae Association Board will present the annual “Holly Spree on Stuart Avenue” from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 19. Over 40 local vendors will be selling items including wreaths, soaps, Christmas items, pet items, jewelry, scarves, hats, frozen casseroles and more. Tickets for the “Pre-Spree” on Nov. 18 are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. On Saturday, admission is free and there will be pictures with Santa and a trip through Santa Land. For details, visit http://www.saintgertrude.org/hollyspree. Full text

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