What began as a spontaneous decision to bring together a couple of food trucks has transformed into a popular rally with sold-out trucks, gourmet food and free music every six weeks.
“We just decided on a whim one day to have a couple food trucks here, and then it turned into a massive event that we do all the time… It’s kind of a showcase for local food trucks,” founder of the rally and High Dive owner Patrick Lavery said.
High Dive — located at 210 SW Second Ave. — celebrated its first Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally of the Fall semester Saturday evening, with over 200 people attending to celebrate small businesses and local student musicians. The free event featured music performances curated by the nonprofit MusicGNV, with a portion of the proceeds supporting the organization.
Eight food trucks and three small businesses gathered at the outdoor venue, blasting music from their speakers and welcoming passersby to grab drinks or a bite to eat before heading inside for performances by young musicians.
The mobile kitchens offered varied cuisine and flavors, from handcrafted Italian water ice and sliders to tacos and award-winning pineapple bread pudding. The rally also featured a more inclusive option for visitors with the vegan comfort food truck Frenchmen Street Food.
The event has attracted some food truck owners for years, with others joining the rally for the first time Saturday, Lavery said.
“We often have regulars and then new food trucks come in,” Lavery said. “It’s always kind of a different rotating cast … It's a hard business. People do it for a year, and then they sell their truck or whatever. There's always new trucks that are coming in and out.”
The New England-style lobster roll truck Monsta Lobsta has become a fan-favorite at the rally since it began 13 years ago. The owner, Kurt Andreaus, said it has been instrumental in helping to get their product out and set their footing in the Gainesville community.
“We were one of the first,” Andreaus said. “The first event they ever had here we were here. We've just come ever since whenever they have it.”
Other businesses were enthusiastic to be at the event for the first time, such as the family owned Ocala fashion business Acqualina. Acqualina owner Lina Contento said the event is a great way to reach new customers.
“We want to get people to know the brand,” Contento said.
Many vendors at the rally said the event is the perfect way to meet new people and add to the success of their business.
Jazmine Madias, who was working for her son’s handcrafted Hispanic and LGBTQIA+ owned cookie business El Cookie Rookie, said the event helped them get involved with the Gainesville community.
“I’m a people person,” Madias said. “We’ve got lots to give to the community.”
The rally also provides many vendors with the opportunity to create future connections and vendor opportunities, Lavery said.
“A lot of trucks tell me that they get a lot of catering gigs out of this or special events,” he said. “People come here and then they invite them out to other things.”
Aside from the opportunity for food truck owners to establish themselves in Gainesville, the rally profited MusicGNV, a Gainesville organization that works to provide local musicians with a platform to share their art and stories.
According to MusicGNV’s Director Brandon Telg, a percentage of the profits made from vendoring went to the organization.
MusicGNV also sold t-shirts and accepted donations through QR codes posted around the venue.
Telg was provided with the chance to create the lineup for the show, choosing teen artists such as 18-year-old singer-songwriter Amarissa Nicole and the teen jazz band, In Full Swing.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to provide a chance for our youngest and brightest talent to perform all over Gainesville,”
“Many of these artists, it's their first time playing the High Dive stage,” Telg said. “For me, that is what I'm grateful for, being able to provide an opportunity for these amazingly talented young artists to get to play one of Gainesvilles most iconic stages.”
Contact Alexandra Burns at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexaburnsuf.