By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Who isn’t just a little happier when the food truck pulls up? It means a welcome break from work, a full tummy and a little social time. The city of Anderson is capitalizing on that concept, and going one better, bringing Food Truckin’ Thursdays to town.
Citizens Park Plaza at Ninth and Main is a new place to be during Thursday’s lunchtime. For the next three months, that’s when local vendors will be showing up to offer lunch and a little relaxing downtime with some home-grown entertainment to boot. The event runs each Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Last Thursday was the launch of Food Truckin’ Thursday. The familiar red-and-white of Greek’s Pizza signaled their truck was open for business, and Your Way Café set up a tent on the lawn.
Jenneice Kendrick from Your Way Cafe sported an ‘I heart Anderson’ bumper sticker across her apron as she dished up pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, walking tacos or dressed dogs. Crystal Pope and Mike Riley also helped to man the tent.
Kristie Knight and Cortney McCullough were helping serve pizza and more at the counter under the awning of the Greek’s Pizzeria truck.
“Our big thing is just getting back downtown. It’s great for us, and it’s just fun,” said Clay Sexton, operations manager at Greek’s Pizzeria.
Once armed with sustenance, about 60 people settled down on benches or shady spots on the grass to enjoy the live music of JT Sifuentes. Set up under the park gazebo, Sifuentes strummed his acoustic guitar, played his harmonica and sang to the delight of the gathered crowd.
Levi Rinker of the City of Anderson Parks Department and Thomas Tijerina of the city’s Community Development Department were both on hand to see how things went.
“We’re trying to create an atmosphere where people can come downtown and realize what kind of gems we have down here, and taste some food vendors,” said Rinker. “Today was a test run.”
Tomorrow, plan on Taco Universal to bring tamales and handmade tacos, while Fab Lab will dish up nitrogen-frozen ice cream treats. Sifuentes will be back to entertain the lunchtime crowd.
Food Truckin’ Thursday is one of several initiatives that Rinker is driving through his new role in the Parks Department. The artist who inspired the Walking Man initiative is busily implementing creative ideas like Food Truckin’ and Traffic Box Art to reinvigorate the urban landscape with a splash of fun, novelty and arts.
Also on the horizon is the Anderson Fiesta 2013 – an event that celebrates the Hispanic culture in the city and beyond. Saturday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., in the Anderson Town Center at 12th and Meridian, the Fiesta will feature music, dance and food.
Eight bands and a DJ will showcase a variety of genres in contemporary and traditional Latin music. Groups appearing that day include the Centenarios de Mexico, Adiccion, Presagio, Reenkuentro, Preciso, Leyendas del Oeste, Truendo, Las Canteras san Luis. Anderson’s own Ballet Folklorico dance troupe will also be performing.
Local restaurants will be providing food vending services and participating in the search for Anderson’s top tamale. Taco Universal, Riviera Maya, El Maguey, Poblanos and La Nueva Charreada have all signed on to the event.
The city of Anderson will have an information booth to extend outreach on available programs including housing, Excel Center, Work Keys Programming, Bi-Lingual Police and more.
Non-profit community and fitness program EPIC Initiatives is also hosting a 5K to kick things off. Registration starts at 10 a.m. at Anderson Town Center. Participants will be bused to Shadyside Park, and run the trail right back downtown to the event.
“I’m really excited,” said Tijerina, who has been instrumental in developing the Fiesta. “It’s a great opportunity to connect people together that normally don’t have a venue to connect together.”
Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.
Where: Citizens Park Plaza, Ninth and Main in Anderson
When: Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This week: Look for Taco Universal to serve tamales and handmade tacos. Fab Lab will dish up nitrogen-frozen ice cream treats. J.T. Sifuentes will croon the tunes.