Thousands of people turned out to support local teams, have some great food and in general, just have fun at the Spirit on Mountain Street.
For the second year in a row Taste of the Town combined with JSU and the Town and Gown Committee to host a joint event with the proceeds going to the Jacksonville Christian Outreach Center. Last year over $9,000 was donated to JCOC from the 1,200 people who came out to support the event. This year it has been estimated that over $10,000 was raised with about 2,000 people in attendance.
Mark Jones, recreational sports director at JSU and president of the Jacksonville City Council, was once again co-chairman of the event with David Glass, who oversaw the Taste of the Town portion of the event.
Jones said his committee started in June putting the event together, meeting every two weeks until the event got closer and then they met in consecutive weeks.
“This is a great community event where we all work together,” said Jones. “Not only do we promote JSU but also, Jacksonville High School, Pleasant Valley and Jacksonville Christian Academy. It’s also a really good way to make everyone aware of JCOC as well.”
“Pulling the university in where we have the facilities, the Southerners’ support, support of the athletic department, the president, maintenance and the alumni association makes this a great community event where everyone works together.”
Glass, responsible for the Taste of the Town side of the event, making sure that the restaurants were involved said that the goal this year was to meet or exceed what was made last year. Glass also mentioned that more food was on hand this year as last year food ran out.
While more food was on hand, once again the sheer number of people that showed up meant the food available, made possible by 30 restaurants, disappeared quickly.
Organizers had more events on hand this year with entertainment for children as well as a dunking booth.
Mayor Johnny Smith was impressed with how well the event went.
“This is such a great event,” said Smith. “It is good exposure for JSU and the city and the big thing is that it is a fundraiser for JCOC. JCOC does such a great job in this area.”
Area coaches were pleased with the exposure that their football teams were given. “We’ll be seen by everyone in zip code 36265 so it’s a big night for us,” said JCA assistant coach Larry Bollinger. “People don’t know a lot about JCA so they’ll get to meet some players they won’t normally meet.”
JCA cheerleaders Chelsea Butler and Calley Compton agreed. Butler, co-captain of the cheerleading squad said that the event, “hypes up the football players. It gets them excited and gets them in football season mode.” Compton, cheerleading captain agreed saying, “Our football team is really pumped up. We love it too because we get to bond. This is really great!”
JHS head football coach Clint Smith said, “This does a lot for our kids, to see the support from everyone in the community. It is really good to see from a coach’s perspective.”
From the numbers that attended it appears that this event is something the community wants around for a good long time.