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18 Alexandria restaurants participating in ‘Cherry Challenge’ in run-up to George Washington Birthday Parade

George and Martha Washington ride in the George Washington Birthday Parade in Old Town, Feb. 21, 2022 (staff photo by James Cullum)

George Washington’s history with cherries will be honored this month, as 18 Alexandria restaurants will compete in this year’s GW Cherry Challenge.

The challenge, which is sponsored by George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, pits the restaurants against each other to create the best “cherry-oriented appetizer, entrée, beverage, or dessert,” according to the city.

The challenge ends at the city’s annual George Washington Birthday Parade in Old Town on President’s Day, Feb. 19.

“This unique event helps generate buzz for Alexandria restaurants, encourages chefs to get creative, and boosts customer traffic,” said Kristen Eastlick, GW Birthday Celebration committee member and chair of the event. “The #GWCherryChallenge lets us offer a tasteful event that keeps George Washington’s memory alive in his hometown. We’re thrilled that historic Mount Vernon has graciously sponsored this whimsical event.”

When George Washington turned six, he was caught red-handed chopping down his father’s cherry tree. Legend says that his father angrily asked him what happened, and the future president said: “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.”

Here’s how it works:

Diners—whether dine-in or take-out—will receive QR codes to vote electronically for their favorite cherry entries based on three criteria: taste, presentation, and creativity. Diners will rate each item from one to three cherries for a maximum score of 9 on each ballot. Point totals for each dish are divided by the number of ballots to get the average score. The highest average in each category wins.

Participating restaurants:

Guests are also encouraged to share photos and descriptions of the cherry items on Instagram or X with the hashtag “#GWCherryChallenge” or by posting them to the George Washington Birthday Celebration’s Facebook page.

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