A sunset, green grass, tall trees, live music and food trucks: What more could you want on a Sunday evening?
Local Gainesville restaurants One Love Cafe and Taste Pho and Noodle House host the monthly Food Festival at Magnolia Parke, full of food trucks, live music, craft beer, dancing and socializing in the diverse melting pot of students, locals and families. One Love Cafe and Taste have been partners in hosting this event every month for over a year. They draw in hundreds of people with hungry bellies who are ready to sink their teeth into everything from Cilantro Tacos to fried oreos and funnel cakes.
The environment? Fun, friendly and fantastic. The food? So tempting and delicious that everyone leaves not just full, but stuffed. The band, “Fast Lane?” Insanely talented and engaging.
What’s so refreshing about this food festival is it brings together people of all ages. Parents played competitive games of tetherball with their children, elderly couples got down on the dance floor, groups of college kids picnic with wide arrays of food and beer. It’s a nice break from the conventional, everyday college campus life: no lectures or textbooks, no greek letters, juuls or iced coffees, just a good time with good people.
“It’s a very chill vibe; everyone’s been very nice, very accepting,” attendee Paul Upa said. “People are able to come out here, meet each other, share common interests. Food always brings people together.”
While some attendees loved the food and the crowd, others were partial to the live band that played a wide variety of classics such as “Low Rider” by War, “Kiss” by Prince and “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry. The eccentric leading guitarist reminded one of a taller Jimi Hendrix as he shredded these classics on his red guitar while getting down on the dance floor with the ladies. The dance floor under the wooden pavilion, lit with twinkling lights, was teeming with couples, singles, a few teens and even little kids who boogied with a vivacious energy.
“The band is phenomenal. That guitar player is incredible. I love the live music, the families and I love playing with the kids,” UF student Amanda Zorzi said.
According to attendees like Upa and Zorzi, the contenders for best food vendors were the pig shots at Backyard Grill and Smoke, Arepa Milko, the Italian sandwich from Mayflower Cellars and local Indian food staple Ahar.
“I really liked the Indian food honestly, because it was really diverse and flavorful, and it's not something you see in a food truck,” Zorzi said.
“The Arepas are amazing for sure. The Backyard barbecue place has what they call pig shots, which are sausage wrapped in bacon, topped with cream cheese and jalapenos,” Upa said. “It’s like everything you want in one shot.”
September Food Festival hosted warm, welcoming characters that filled the night with great music, food, laughter, dancing and an overall fun time.