On Friday evening, South King Street was filled with food trucks and locals enjoying food and playing yard games, all while enjoying musical entertainment from Ben Honeycutt – the first 2019 Food Truck and Friends event had arrived.

A tradition that happens three times a year, this gathering is put on by the Downtown Development Authority and has been one that is much-anticipated since it began in 2015.

“Ashley Goble, the former communications director, and I were talking about doing an event together, and we kind of came up with Food Trucks and Friends,” said DDA Director Suzanne Roberts.

Roberts said the event, though at first started with only four trucks and around 800 attendees, has expanded to seven trucks and a crowd of around 2,000, which was how many were estimated to have showed at Friday’s event. Trucks come from as far away as metro Atlanta and as close as Calhoun, and Roberts says it’s turned out more successful than she originally thought it would.

Honeycutt, who has played music for the event in some form or fashion since it began, says it’s a great event and challenges his artistic style. Since the crowd is typically a diverse one, he likes to bring a mix of music to the festival varying from pop to country, new to old, rock to alternative.

“I love this event, I think it’s great,” Honeycutt said as he tuned his guitar. “I think it’s a great thing for Calhoun and downtown to just have something for people to come to and have fun with their families.”

While Honeycutt was playing an acoustic cover of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, the owner of the only Gordon County vendor, Dakota Grogan, shared his thoughts.

“They’re doing it right,” Grogan said, reflecting how the DDA planned Food Trucks and Friends to take place every few months. “You can’t do something like this all the time if you want it to be something people look forward to.”

Grogan owns a lemonade stand under the name Country Cabin Sweets and Treats, which is a part of Copper Creek Farm, located in Calhoun. Grogan said he’s experienced other markets occur too frequently and become less attended, saying he can’t make a profit at more frequent markets.

Working with his family at Copper Creek and Country Cabin, Grogan sells fresh-squeezed lemonade and other treats at around a dozen events a year. Weekends are busy for the Grogan family, but he said it’s always good to work at a local event.

Grogan, as well as other vendors, were working hard Friday evening, selling to customers and engaging with friends. Jennifer Palmer, who owns Amaizeing Eats with her husband, was present at the event and had driven from Dalton to participate.

When taking a break from working, Palmer said their business is fairly new, having only begun in August. Palmer’s husband was in between jobs when they came up with the idea to start a food truck.

“It was a blessing, we ended up meeting another couple that owned a food truck and they helped us get everything started,” Palmer said. “We’ve been pleased with it so far.”

Amaizeing Eats had gathered a long line Friday, and even had customers playing corn hole as they waited for their food to be ready. Palmer’s food truck sells a variety of Southwestern-style food, including tacos, nachos, burritos and rice bowls.

“It is a lot of work but it’s relatively inexpensive when you look at food businesses and restaurants as far as overhead costs,” Palmer said, “and honestly we did really well at this event in the fall.”

Both Palmer and Grogan both said they would be reappearing at the Downtown BBQ, Boogie and Blues, an annual festival which will take place on April 26 and April 27 in downtown Calhoun.

As the parking lot of the Downtown Depot filled with people enjoying their dinners and listening to Honeycutt perform, Roberts said she hoped to see this event grow.

Food Trucks and Friends takes place three times a year, and Roberts said the Development Authority is looking into hosting another one at the end of the summer. She said eventually they might consider adding on a fourth event in the future if its popularity continues to increase.