Ambient music and the sound of food truck generators filled the parking lot at High DiveDec. 4. Over 150 people moseyed down the row of vendors and enjoyed food and drinks in the beer garden for the free event that lasted until 10 p.m.
At their last food truck rally of the year, High Dive hosted 10 food trucks for a night of food trucks and local musicians for patrons. Every six weeks, local food vendors, complete with vegan and vegetarian options from the Gainesville area are invited to set up at the venue while live music plays inside.
Performances started at 6:30 with Bruce Watt, a 20-year-old UF architecture sophomore. He has become a regular at High Dive and the Food Truck Rally events, performing original music and covers. Saturday marked his seventh performance there.
“I always love to see other artists perform and the atmosphere is great,” Watt said.
The rally partnered with Girls Place, a Gainesville nonprofit that helps empower girls in kindergarten through eighth grade. From afterschool programs to tutoring, graduates from the program and counselors encourage girls to celebrate themselves.
Girls Place had a tent at the entrance of the beer garden where facilitator Devin Woody, 28, and counselors Mo Render, 21, and Cassidy Smith, 18, shared their mission. Smith is a graduate of the program and now volunteers as a counselor with them.
“Our program is about empowering girls to grow strong, courageous and self-sufficient,” Smith said.
The vendors and High Dive donated part of their proceeds from the night to Girls Place. They raised a total of $600 after getting donations matched by the Josephs.
Chef JJ Creations catering company and Tropical Eatz food truck are owned by brother duo Freedlengton and Joshua Joseph. The Josephs have been running their catering company for three years and added a permanent food truck at 1225 NW 10th Ave in June. Inspired by Caribbean fusion cuisine, they sold Jamaican patties and rice bowls at their third High Dive Food Truck Rally.
The Josephs promised to match donations to the Girls Place and donated $300. Visitors at the event could scan QR codes around the venue and at each truck to donate.
For Freedlengton Joseph, this event was a chance to help Girls Place and interact with the Gainesville community. As a member of the board of directors for Girls Place, he said donations have been slow throughout the pandemic but are looking up.
“We are glad to be making a comeback,” Joseph said. “We are really hoping to match donations for them tonight.”
Adam Schellhase, a 19-year-old Valencia journalism sophomore, just started working at High Dive two months ago. This was his second Food Truck Rally, and while it was quieter than last time, he said he was happy to be there.
“It’s an intimate venue with great vibes,” Schellhase said. “It’s comfortable for everyone to have a good time.”
Serra Sowers is a contributing writer for The Alligator.