hdr dinner graphic

HDR hopes the dinner party will bring many different types of people together.

In honor of its 15th anniversary, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance will be hosting a Downtown Dinner Party at Turner Pavilion and Park on May 19. This is a new event for HDR and it’ll be teaming up with Sub Rosa Supper Club. Guests can expect to eat and drink a variety of items, all while listening to music and being surrounded by people from all over the Harrisonburg community while in a spring chic attire.

HDR is a downtown revitalization organization. Their mission is to support local downtown businesses through small business assistance programs, beautification programs and throwing festivals and events. Lauren Huber, the director of resources for HDR, talked about what this dinner party means for HDR.

“This a fundraising event for HDR and is a fun and food focused event with 15 chefs and tasting tables featuring everything from ceviche to a whole pig to amazing desserts,” said Huber.

The dinner party menu will feature fun surprises from locally sourced ingredients. There will also be a bar, live piano music, a DJ, a vintage photo booth and a live Instagram and Twitter feed where guests can share their experience at the event.

HDR’s main focus is on the local downtown businesses and it’s incorporating all that Harrisonburg has to offer into the dinner party. Kirsten Moore is one of the partners of Sub Rosa Supper Club, which is an organization that brings 24 different people together for a dinner at a secret location. She wanted to ensure the guests at the event get to see another side of Harrisonburg’s businesses.

“We focused on this because Harrisonburg is a designated culinary district that a lot of times, the chefs are behind-the-scenes and the people don’t know about them so this is a chance to showcase the chefs,” Moore said.  “A lot of the chefs will be using local ingredients so they can talk to the people eating the food about where it’s from and engage with people. What we’ve learned is that food is an easy way to bring people together.”

There’s been a lot of changes leading up to the event. Since HDR is changing the format of this fundraiser, HDR’s executive director Andrea Dono wanted to make sure this event is more than just a fundraiser.

“By just changing the format and focus of our major fundraising event, we feel we are doing something pretty special,” Dono said. “ I think creating a new event that aligns with HDR’s mission to support local businesses and to attract more people to downtown is a great way to celebrate our 15th year.”

A major aspect of the dinner party is the transformation of the Turner Pavilion. It was challenge at first on how to design the pavilion since it’s known as a site for the farmer’s market.  

“It’s such a large venue and trying to create that space and the feel we want is going to be completely new,” Huber said. “[The Pavilion] will be completely draped, lights are going to be hung and there will be an indoor lounge area. It's going to be incredible.”

There will also be decorations that show before and after photos throughout the Pavilion. HDR hopes these photos will give a meaningful feel to the dinner party.

As for the fundraising aspect, HDR will be having a live auction during the event. It will be have ten unique and creative items that include downtown businesses in some way. Some items include a brew session and design your own label from Friendly Fermentors to a six piece pottery set with pottery lessons. The money raised from the auction will go back to supporting the businesses.

The idea of bringing different types of people together is something HDR hopes to accomplish. By having this mindset, the people involved are working on bringing it to life.

“What we’ve learned is that food is an easy way to bring people together that wouldn’t normally be together,” Moore said. “This is going to be different than other fundraising galas being it’s not a fancy cocktail things — it’s going to be fun and young.”

Contact Talia Davis at davisty@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.