But Thursday at Jacksonville’s Spirit on Mountain Street, you can try the best dishes local eateries have to offer at the Taste of the Town tasting fair, where $10 buys you 10 tickets to try 10 different delicacies from your choice of more than 40 restaurants. We’re talking Cooter Brown’s ribs, calamari from Effina’s Tuscan Grill, nachos from Loco Mex — even the fast-food joints get in on the action.
“We want to show everyone in the zip code that they have a chance to participate,” says David Glass, a volunteer who has helped organize the event since the beginning. “You’ll find a restaurant you didn’t even know was in town, and then you may find something on their menu that you didn’t know (about).”
And that’s just the beginning.
The annual event has served as a high-spirited kick off to a new football season for the past seven years, with proceeds benefitting the Jacksonville Christian Outreach Center. The organization, which is supported by 25 churches, temporarily assists individuals in need with everything from back-to-school items to power bill payments to food.
“There’s a lot of things that they give their money to help with,” said Glass. “When you have an outreach that’s lasted (19 years), and people trust it and respect it, it’s not hard to support it.”
Following the tasting fair, it’s time to get into the school spirit at the area-wide pep rally which will be kicked off — literally — by the Southerners dance team and Marching Ballerinas. The JSU stadium becomes a school-spirit free-for-all, incorporating the bands of Jacksonville State, Jacksonville and Pleasant Valley high schools, and Jacksonville Christian Academy.
But, don’t forget to save room for dessert. Each church involved with JCOC will be auctioning off its best cake. Glass himself has an affinity for a certain peanut butter selection.
“Each church has their lady that makes the cake,” he said, “and it turns out to be pretty good.”
Local country singer Riley Green will perform and the younger attendees can expend some energy in the game-filled Kids Zone. Jock Burgess and Andrew McDermott from K98 will broadcast live and one lucky winner will walk away with a pair of tickets to a JSU home game — on the club level, of course.
Glass admits it’s “pretty intense” to organize the three-hour event but it’s worth it to see the city unite for such a noble cause.
“That to me is the most important thing — seeing different parts of the community come together for one thing, and our community has always been very good about that.”
IF YOU GO…
What: Spirit on Mountain Street
When: Thursday, Taste of the Town at 6 p.m., pep rally at 8 p.m
Where: Burgess-Snow Field, Jacksonville
Tickets: Food tickets can be purchased onsite in $5 and $10 increments
Info: On Facebook, Spirit on Mountain Street