Nearly 100 people took part in the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce’s third annual Dishin’ Up Democracy dinner on Wednesday night.

Meant to be reminiscent of an old-fashioned political gathering, the nonpartisan event was attended by regional representatives and community leaders and provided an opportunity for interaction with officials and candidates seeking office in upcoming elections.

Presented by the governmental affairs committee of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce, the dinner took place at the Farmer’s Cooperative warehouse in Van Buren.

Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman, the introductory speaker for the dinner, discussed the event’s purpose.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone to visit with elected officials for an exchange of thoughts and ideas,” Freeman said.

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin was the keynote speaker for the event. Griffin summarized a plan that he said would reduce taxes on residents by making state government more efficient.

“State government is essential … but we can do better in the way we spend your money,” Griffin said.

Griffin used the term “transformation” and discussed ways the state government could be updated and reduce costs without layoffs or loss of services.

Griffin, an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, also encouraged those attending to teach children to respect veterans by taking them to events where veterans are honored.

Dinner served as part of the event included fried catfish, chicken and hushpuppies from Bruce Terri Catering. Musician Brittany Morse performed a variety of hit songs during the event.