Lou-E’s Annual Holiday Taste & Business Expo  is a less extravagant, more affordable version of The Taste of Louisville , both of which support charities. However, not everyone can afford to shell out $55.00 on a ticket (or stumbles upon a delightful invitation). For $10.00, Lou-E’s affair is still delectable, and entirely heartwarming. It was my first time attending, and I felt as if it was just what the holiday doctor ordered.
Ellen Wade is on the far left in the Holiday Inn Louisville East.
Ellen Wade, one of the main organizers, has been there from the very beginning. According to Ms. Wade, Louisville’s Economic Chamber of Commerce ’s seasonal jamboree started off as a compact event. Restaurants in the area all offered a dish to the residents that ventured out as a small way to say thank you to the community. Then, as the event evolved, the charity was added. Ms. Wade has truly seen this grow. “People get something out of it while giving back.” And the charity selected this year, Camp Quality Kentuckiana , is certainly a meaningful cause. I definitely had tears in my eyes.
Getting my picture taken with a real-life superhero! Meet Max-A-Million, the man who brightens kids' days.
I had the fortune of meeting Max-A-Million of the Children’s Hospital Foundation , and part of the Louisville League of Mascots . This league (including the U of L Cardinal Bird and Buddy Bat) works with Camp Quality and helps entertain the kick-off summer event with pro bono appearances.
Max-A-Million with two of the inspiring Camp Quality Kentuckiana campers.
Moms of the Camp Quality Kentuckiana campers shown above, plus Nurse Nancy, who is one of the modern-day miracle workers who helps make this great cause a possibility.
It really moved me to meet the girl who lit up when she saw her talent show performance video of Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart ;” the boy with bright blue eyes who was just wanting to be a normal kid, playing video games; the parents who beamed with strength and pride; and people like Nurse Nancy who dedicate their time and compassion to ensuring children enduring or who have survived cancer have safe and fun summer camp experiences. As Nurse Nancy explained to me, when one person has cancer, the whole family has it. To see these families shine, in spite of it all, was honestly the most gratifying part of the entire event.
It was nice being able to go up to the booths and meet each Louisville business. All of them, except for one restaurant, (which I won’t throw under the bus, but it was the only thing that detracted from the event) were gracious and sociable. They could not wait to interact with fellow Louisvillians and have people learn about and/or taste their products. I was an eager participant.
This chipper frog for Sweet Frog  Frozen Yogurt is also part of the Louisville League of Mascots.
Favorite flavor: Pumpkin.
I was entertained by Zaxby's  cleverly named assortment of dipping sauces.
Showcasing Louisville's Old 502 Winery 's fun wine flavors, including Kentucky Lady (A Hit with the Misses) and B*%#@!N Barrel Red. Old 502 Winery also offers a venue if you are looking for a spot for future festive occasions.
People had a terrific time at this event. Lively spirits all around! (Pun intended.)
Cobalt Dental carries an awesome photo booth with them to these sorts of events. I couldn't resist!
Mike's Kentucky Kitchen : Savory Smoked Brisket Taco with Dijon Slaw.
Food 4 Ur Soul : One of my favorite booths! They went above and beyond, wanting each person to have the full soul food experience.
I'm not even crazy about sweet potato, and I loved their sweet potato casserole!
Best dessert goes to Holiday Inn Hurstbourne , where the event took place, for a most decadent caramel cake. It was glorious.
The infamous booth with a rude representative. The Philly rolls were tasty, but the Grinch-like demeanor negatively impacted my view of that restaurant.
Thank goodness for Louisville Tea Company . I could not believe there was no sugar in either of their tea samples!!
My favorite of the two teas. And normally I like Chai the most.
I am obsessed with tea and need some more Louisville Tea Company in my life!
Genghis Grill : Mongolian stir-fry love. Bonus point for decoration and for packaging.
Murray's  Le Roule Cranberry Log. My friends will be amazed that I ate cheese and loved it.
Normally, I hate cheddar cheese. But Murray's representatives were so welcoming and insisted by pairing the cheese with sweet jams, the jams would bring out entirely different flavors in the cheese. No wonder I like cheesecake!
32 Degrees: A Yogurt Bar . Salted Caramel Pretzel frozen yogurt with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, peppermint shavings, white chocolate sauce, and a raspberry on top. Completely customizable to your ultimate fro yo desires.
It does make a difference when restaurant/business representatives engage with you in a kind and professional manner. I want to go back to those places. And because of this, I expanded my views on cheese (and metaphorically, on life).
All Photos Courtesy of Julie Lamb