It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The fifth anniversary of the Original Food Truck Rally will be in the parking lot of High Dive on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The event will have 12 food truck vendors, free live local music from Glory Presents and, for the first time, Over Easy Creative will also host a silent disco in the beer garden with 200 headsets for $5 each. The event is benefitting Climb for Cancer Foundation, a local charity supporting cancer patients in Gainesville.
Pat Lavery, seven-year facility and events manager of High Dive, said he founded the original food truck rally downtown five years ago.
“Nothing like that had ever happened in Gainesville before,” Lavery said.
At the time, there were almost no food trucks around except for Pelican Brothers, a local food truck that was parked out back every night at High Dive, Lavery said. With a live local concert scheduled later that month, he had the idea to quickly scout out more trucks and combine the events to throw Gainesville’s first-ever food truck rally event.
“Combine the things, and let’s see what happens,” Lavery said.
Now High Dive hosts food truck rallies every six to eight weeks, he said, with Saturday’s rally being around their 40th.
What started as an experiment, Lavery said, turned into something of a local tradition and spawned the food truck culture of Gainesville.
“My favorite thing to do: You know you go to one line to get some food, then you go get in another line and you eat the food from the other truck while you’re waiting to be served,” Lavery said. “It’s like bar-hopping.”
Three years ago, Lavery implemented the rallies benefitting local charities, as well. Since then, he said he believes they have raised between $25,000 to $30,000 for charities in Gainesville.
On Saturday, the proceeds will be made from a contest for best food truck. People will be encouraged to vote by putting money in the jar located in the window of their favorite truck, and the winning food truck will receive a gift from a local sponsor. All the money from the jars will be donated to the Climb for Cancer Foundation.
Climb for Cancer, founded by Ron and Dianne Farb, is a nonprofit organization that organizes team mountain-climbing expeditions across the world for individuals who have pledged to fundraise in order to climb in name of the cause.
Ron Farb, the company’s 72-year-old cofounder who has scaled five of the seven steepest summits in the world, helped create the organization as a way to combine his passion for climbing with his hope of one day finding a cure, according to the website.
“The climbing of the mountain is supposed to almost symbolize the battle — the climb that you have to take while battling cancer,” David DiMauro, a climber and volunteer for CFC said.
DiMauro, a 21-year-old UF biology student, is currently raising $14,000 for CFC with the 2018 fundraising team for the trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.
“It’ll be by far the highest mountain I’ve ever climbed,” DiMauro said. “It’s both a logistical and physical challenge to raise that much money and then do the actual climb.”
One program within the organization, Harriet’s Helping Hand, was named after Farb’s sister. She climbed Kilimanjaro at 68 while battling metastatic breast cancer and undergoing chemotherapy before passing away in 2009.
Today, the program helps families of Gainesville patients with everyday expenses from gas money to lodging, according to the website.
“They don’t want families to worry about how much it costs to be with their loved ones while they’re going through something so difficult,” DiMauro said.
He said events like the food truck rally Saturday are a huge way the community can support them.
“While the community is coming for food and for fun and for friends, whether they are intentionally doing it or not, they’re helping the community by supporting these charities that the High Dive is supporting,” DiMauro said.
In fact, he said they have hosted at least three or four food truck rallies to benefit them in the past.
Events like these truly represent what community means to him, DiMauro said.
“(It’s) people coming together, having fun and serving something that’s greater than themselves,” he said.