Downtown Jacksonville was full of food, fun and football on Friday as residents and homecoming game patrons tailgated at the Taste of Jacksonville event before one of the year's most anticipated football games.
Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce President Peggy Renfro said the theme this year was “tailgating at the Tomato Bowl,” and the group tried something new this year to coordinate the annual food event before the game across the street.
“We had more (people come this year) than we ever had,” she said. “It was larger and it was perfect.”
Renfro said she estimates between 400 and 450 bellies were filled at the event.
The event featured wine tasting for the first time, and a group called “Danca Azteca” provided entertainment and a little pre-game fun as they danced slightly-interpreted traditional native American dances for guests.
Jose Guzman said he has been part of the group since 2000. He said the group has about 25 members who practice weekly and on event days whoever is available comes to dance and entertain.
Robin Batton of Jacksonville said she has been attending the event since 2007 and remembers when it began with each restaurant making chili.
Batton said she enjoyed the entertainment and a bite before watching her son, Dillon Rodriguez, perform as a mascot in the homecoming festivities.
My favorite was the Dairy Queen nachos and the stuffed mushrooms from Fratellas,” she said. “All the Italian things were good.”
It was the first year for Beth Gardner, of Bullard, who came with a group of church members from Vanderbilt Baptist Church in Tyler.
“I was really impressed,” she said citing her favorite item was a twisted pretzel from Chili's. “I will be back next year.”
Vendors said they had a fun time meeting and connecting with community members.
“The best part is feeling small again,” said Luke Wilson, general manager of Chili's in Jacksonville. “We are a big corporation but we care about our community.”
Emmanuel Gallo with Dairy Queen on Jackson Street said he had a great time meeting new faces.
“This isn't work, this is interaction,” he said. “This is why I love my job.”
Officials with the chamber said the event is a fundraiser to help fund the lighting of Hazel Tilton Park for Christmas. In total $4,250 was raised.
Renfro said Adopt-a-School sold tickets for chances to win donated gift baskets from vendors. She said about $900 was raised for Jacksonville ISD.
“The people I've talked to were very excited and pleased with what took place that day,” she said.
Renfro said she would like to thank the vendors, Jacksonville Police Academy who helped with security, the dancers and volunteers who made the event possible.
There's a New Warden In Town: Baker takes the helm of Rusk facilities
Eddie Baker learned quite a bit about the warden profession during the late 1980s, while playing ball with friends at Palestine's Westwood High School.Continued ...
- Spelling bee rallies community for Literacy Council
- Council sets date to canvass runoff election results
- Excess volume stalls phone lines
- Area has systems in place for emergency communication
- There's a New Warden In Town: Baker takes the helm of Rusk facilities
- LOCAL NEWS
- Local effort to help Oklahoma tornado victims continues
- Former Christian radio station program director arrested second time in a 12 month span for drugs
- Tornado watch sparks concern; thunderstorms kill power, knock over tree limbs, wall of downtown building
- Wells man arrested on suspicion of second-degree felony sexual assault
- Welcome Home
- LOCAL SPORTS