Food, folks and fun at truck fest

The Summer Food Truck Fest may be one of many events to help expand the Englewood Sports Complex to a monthly entertainment venue, according to Wendy Aldridge, programs coordinator for Sarasota County Parks and Recreation.

“The space we have makes it convenient for in- and outdoor events,” Aldridge said. “It’s also easy to get to our facility.”

The event will be 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 10 at the complex on 1300 S. River Road, Englewood.

Robin Parsons, event coordinator for the Summer Food Truck Fest, said planning took about three months and the event is the first time she’s done such an event in Englewood.

“It’s great working with the Englewood Sports Complex,” Parsons said. “The location offers a lot of flexibility. I’m handling logistics in addition to event coordination.”

Parsons said the event will be held at the main complex building parking lot and a lot across the street.

“I’m hoping for 500-1,000 (visitors),” she said.

The Dashing Diner, the Ravenous Rhino, Purple Belle Ice Cream and the Flying Sliders will be among the food vendors open for business at the festival.

“I got involved through Suncoast Food Trucks,” said Kathy Connett, owner of Sarasota-based Purple Belle Ice Cream. “Andrew Seeley runs the organization and owns Flying Sliders. There are about 15 trucks in this organization.”

Suncoast Food Trucks is a Sarasota-Manatee organization.

Connett said she’s been particularly busy over the summer.

“I travel to areas like Tampa and Englewood,” she said. “I probably average two events a week, not related to school or corporate. I’m usually self-sufficient since I don’t usually have the same issues that dining trucks have. We anticipate a large crowd so I will have one person helping me at this event where they usually have more with the other (dining) trucks.”

The event will also include live music. Joel Fisher, Sycamore Shade and Renegade will be among the bands performing at the festival.

“This will be our first time performing in Englewood,” said Will Corr, who performs vocals, mandolin and fiddle for Sycamore Shade. “We’re looking forward to it. We’re a small, highenergy bluegrass band playing a mix of classics, bluegrass versions of classic rock and blues.”

Sycamore Shade primarily performs on and around Anna Maria Island in Manatee County.

Admission to the festival is free. In addition to music, there will be a kid zone featuring carnival games, 50-foot mobile video game theater, 100-square-foot laser tag area and face painting. Individual games are $3 and an all-day game admission armband is $10.

Aldridge said she hopes the event sets precedence for future events at the complex. Events like truck fest will be held in and around the main building at the complex and not at the athletic fields due to the cost of the fields’ upkeep.

“This event will be a great way for us to kick off the season,” she said. “Our goal is to have more events and we’re starting to get more attention from community and event planners. We want to remain active throughout the year, not just when the seasonal residents are around.”

For more information, visit   or call 941-275-9096.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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