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Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally returns to High Dive

Saturday marked the event’s eighth year benefiting charities around Gainesville

Gainesville resident Jon DeCarmine, 42, picks up gelato from the BZ Gelati Food Truck at the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally hosted by High Dive on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021.
Gainesville resident Jon DeCarmine, 42, picks up gelato from the BZ Gelati Food Truck at the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally hosted by High Dive on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021.

Local vendors spent Saturday serving up some drive-by deliciousness, all for a charitable cause.  

The Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally returned to High Dive Saturday with trucks like Apps, B’z Gelati, Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ and more. The event benefited Peaceful Paths, a state-certified domestic violence center servicing survivors from Alachua, Bradford and Union County. Part of the proceeds from vendors were donated to Peaceful Paths, and the organization had a booth at the event where guests could donate or receive more information.

Students and residents alike attended the event, which kicked off at 5 p.m. and ran until 9 p.m. Vendors occupied every corner of the parking lot, and guests were given a wide variety of food options from the trucks in attendance. 

Cassie Hallgren, a 20-year-old UF biology sophomore, said she was initially drawn to the rally for its novelty, citing it as an oddity among the ordinary activities Gainesville usually hosts.

“I feel like everyone here gets in a boring cycle of doing the same stuff,” she said. “When I saw it on Facebook, I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”

High Dive’s parking lot was filled with around 100 people, and more gathered in the beer garden or inside the building where The Medicine Show and The Late Night Losers were performing. Even as guests filtered in and out and the hours passed, the crowd numbers stayed consistent.

Brooke Lacey, barista and owner of Brooklynn’s Coffee, said the large crowd wasn’t a surprise given Gainesville’s reputation of having a strong interest in food trucks. The Lake City resident noted that vendors from all over Florida have their eye on the city and are looking to establish themselves as a presence in the competitive market.

“People are every day wanting to be in Gainesville,” she said.

Lacey, 32, has been in the coffee business for 12 years but only opened her truck three months ago. She, like many other vendors, has been “trying to get into Gainesville” and serve an eager customer base. After turning a profit in just two months, she said she’s considering opening a second truck.

The economic opportunity wasn’t the only thing that drew Lacey to participate in High Dive’s rally – she said the charity aspect, especially one benefitting domestic violence survivors, was an equally important factor.

“That’s part of what brought me here,” she said. “Things like that really push it for me.”

High Dive’s rally has benefited local charities since its inception eight years ago. This year’s charity partner for the rally, Peaceful Paths, has a “long and ongoing relationship with High Dive,” according to the organization’s executive director Theresa Beachy.

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“They’ve been a regular part of our fundraising calendar for many years,” she said. 

Peaceful Paths provides free and confidential services to adult and child survivors of domestic violence, including transportation, housing and utility payments and medical expenses. All of the funds from Peaceful Paths’ fundraising efforts are put directly into these client services.

Beachy said the response from the Gainesville community has been overwhelmingly positive. Just under an hour into the event, multiple donors had already stopped by the Peaceful Paths booth to make contributions to the organization.

Saturday’s rally was the first in just under a year following closures and cancellations due to the coronavirus. Beachy said the return was a welcome one, and that the enthusiasm of the crowd was evident throughout the event. 

“People are excited to see nonprofits back out in the community,” she said.

Operating under the premise of good eats for a good cause, High Dive’s food truck rally has been a staple in the Gainesville scene for almost a decade, and if this year’s turnout was any indication, its presence will continue for years to come.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include The Late Night Losers. It was previously referred to as Thomas Allain Band.

Contact Heather Bushman at hbushman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @hgrizzl.

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