The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust celebrated its silver anniversary on Sunday with food trucks and farm fare — a combination that brought out a loyal food truck following and outdoor lovers.
Families, couples and friends sat under the shade of a large tree at the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies on Old Friant Road munching on pizza, tacos, and pies from nine different food trucks and vendors.
Others passed through artisan tents or walked around a nearby pond to learn about wildlife and the organization's mission to preserve and promote access to land on both sides of the river from Friant Dam to Highway 99.
This is the second time the parkway has held a food truck and farm vendor event. It was successful last year so the parkway decided to mark the group's 25th anniversary this year by bringing the event back, said Dave Koehler, executive director.
"It's a great way to build community," Koehler said, "and to inform the community about the parkway."
Koehler estimated this year's attendance to be about 1,200 people, double that from last year.
Christa Wiens of Fresno, her family and friends came out to the river center for the first time, although they are frequent users of the nearby public parkway trails.
"This is wonderful," said Wiens who heard about the event at church. "There's lots of places to sit and food for the kids to enjoy."
Wiens said she came to the event to support a vendor selling items like handsewn hats and jewelry, but admitted the food was a big draw too.
"We're food truck fans," Wiens said. "We have been known to follow them."
Hollie Schreve and Jessica Lucasi, both of Fresno, also admitted to following food trucks. The friends and their three dogs participated in the Fresno Bully Walk at Woodward Park in the morning then headed to the river center for lunch.
"It's nice," said Shreve, who had a grilled cheese sandwich from Dusty Buns. "They make it really easy" to walk around and get food.
Quail Lake Charter School friends Ethan Schletewitz, 12, Atticus Humphrey, 13, and Kendyl Lassley, 13, ran a booth selling fruit, bread and popcorn to raise money for a spring-break trip to New York City. The trip's cost: $2,000 each.
"We're slowly getting there," Humphrey said while helping customers pick out grapes.
The students said they were looking for a way to fundraise when they came across a flier for the food truck and farm fare event.
They didn't have to raise money for their trip, Lassley said, but "we were saying 'let's help our parents out.' "
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