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Happy Birthday HOCO! Food Truck Friday returns to downtown Perry after pandemic hiatus

Macon Telegraph logo Macon Telegraph 5/13/2021 Becky Purser, The Macon Telegraph

May 13—Food Truck Friday is returning to downtown Perry this Friday for the first time since September 2019.

"It's been over 600 days. I did the math," an excited Anya Turpin, special events manager for the city of Perry, said with a laugh. "We've got over 30 vendors that are coming — that includes food trucks and specialty beverage vendors.

"We're expecting really great weather — sunny with a high of 75. We are going to have live music: We've got a DJ that's performing. We've got a giant bubble artist who is coming to do giant bubbles for the kids."

The COVID-19 pandemic preempted the 2020 Food Truck Festival season in Perry, though the city did hold a Grub Crawl event where food trucks were spaced out at varied locations throughout the city.

"It was our adaptation of our trying to have something to support the food trucks but it was definitely not the event the people expected for Food Truck Friday," Turpin said.

Before the pandemic, the popular Food Truck Friday brought an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 people to downtown Perry on the second Friday of spring, summer and early fall months to enjoy food, family, friendship, community, beer, wine and live music. The attendance estimate was based on feedback from vendors and was often dependent on the weather.

"We're trying to bring back celebrating in downtown Perry," Turpin said. "That's what people love to do."

Keeping safe

But the city also wants to do that safely. Masks and social distancing is encouraged.

"This year, we are going to expand the footprint and spread everything out a little bit more to help reduce the likelihood of crowding," Turpin said. "We're increasing the number of restrooms that we have and we'll have an attendant on site to make sure those restrooms are clean and sanitized.

Hand sanitizer stations will be set up.

"And, of course, the event is outside as well. So we're feeling hopeful about it," Turpin said.

Some of the fan favorites that are coming back include Hibachi Highway, Dragon Cupbop Korean Food Truck and Debs Curbside Cupcakes.

Some new food vendors include Atlanta Seafood Company, Sunset Slush of Middle Georgia, and Orleans on Carroll Food Truck, a brand new food truck whose owners are working to open a new restaurant by that name at 807 Carroll St.

Special beverage vendors will offer "all sorts of things" such as beer, wine, lemonade and coffee, Turpin said.

'Happy Birthday HOCO!'

"Something we're trying this year .. We are lightly theming the events," Turpin said. "So this first one is going to be "Happy Birthday HOCO!" It's Houston County's 200th birthday.

"So, we're going to have birthday hats that we're giving away to people and accessories that people can use. We're going to have the DJ play Happy Birthday every hour. We have giant Happy Birthday photo props that we're going to put out around the event."

Each of the following months will have a different theme such as a sports night, an Aloha Friday and an 80s night.

"Just something to kind of make it unique and take it up a little bit," she said.

The last Food Truck Friday event for the year is the second Friday in September.

"A lot of people do ask why we don't do Food Truck Fridays year round, but we do have other events that take place in October, November, December ... So even when we're not doing Food Truck Friday, we're still doing other events that people can come and enjoy.

"In September in addition to Food Truck Friday, we have the Perry Music Festival. In October, we have our Oktoberfest event. November, we're having a huge International Festival with representation from over 30 different countries, and in December, we have our annual New Year's Eve event, the Perry Buzzard Drop."

The event is from 6-10 p.m. The downtown area is roped off. There's no admittance fee — just the cost for eats and beverages. Downtown restaurants are open, too.

"Help us celebrate Houston County's 200th birthday with fresh beats and fresh eats on the down streets, featuring a performance by DJ Mix Master T," reads a city of Perry Facebook post about the event.

Bands are signed up for Food Truck Friday events for the rest of the year.

Credit cards are accepted by most vendors, but bringing some cash is a good idea, too, in case there are any technology glitches, Turpin said.

Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed. No outside coolers or outside alcohol. Bag chairs are permitted.

"We're just hoping to see a great number and people come out and support these food trucks that have been struggling for so long trying to find events," Turpin said.

Vendor list

Here's a list of vendors expected at Friday's event:

* Dragon Cupbop Korean Food Truck

* Cuban Island Café

* Mrs Polly's Motivational BBQ CAB

* Sunset Slush of Middle Georgia

* Operation Mini Donuts

* Dot Bowl

* Yodee's Mobile Fresh

* Scott Boys Smokin' BBQ

* Hibachi Highway

* BBQ Monsters To-Go

* Salsa's Mexican Grill

* Debs Curbside Cupcakes

* Guest Driven BBQ

* Pinky's Shaved Ice

* True Blue BBQ

* The Funnel Cake Guys

* Bodega Brew (adult beverages)

* Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen (adult beverages)

* The Swanson (adult beverages)

* Little Light Coffee Co.

* Lemonade Mixology

* Shiver Shack Shaved Ice

* Foodie-Pops

* Just Tap'd

* Orleans on Carroll Food Truck

* Houston Lodge Food Truck

* O' Taste & See

* Atlanta Seafood Company

* The Grub Shack

* Bee Smoothie

* The Mercedes-Benz Stadium Food Truck

* Nanny's Stuff :

Downtown dining

Here are some downtown dining options:

* Hazard's at 901 Carroll St.

* Bodega Brew a1025 Ball St.

* The Swanson at 933 Carroll St.

* Schultze's Old Fashioned Soda Shop at 757 Carroll St.

* Morning By Morning Coffee Company at 1012 Main St.

* Acres & Oak Kitchen at 1030 Ball St.

* The Perfect Pear Catering, LLC at 922 Carroll St.

* BBQ Monsters To-Go at 736 Carroll St.

Additionally, the list of vendors and other event details are subject to change, while restaurant hours may not match the Food Truck Friday event hours. Turpin advised checking with the individual restaurants ahead of time.

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