TEMPLE TERRACE — The 8th annual Temple Terrace Reads festival is set to kick off Oct. 12 at the public library and fire station on Bullard Parkway.
But this year, the event will have some company. And organizers are worried that the new event — a festival and food truck rally planned for across the street at the same time — will steal their crowd.
"When (the coordinator) said he's coming with food trucks, it's definitely going to hurt our schools,'' said Gwen Mora, in charge of planning for Temple Terrace Reads.
The new event also has drawn the ire of city officials. Temple Terrace city attorney Mark Connolly sent a letter to the lawyer for the Fabulous Food Festival and Family Fun Fest, demanding that organizers stop promoting the event as being part of the Temple Terrace Reads festival and Fire Department open house.
The City Council in July had turned down a request from promoters to endorse the food festival after several members voiced concern that they had never heard of the charity that the new festival would benefit, Miami-based America's Life Line Foundation.
Connolly objected to the tone of the one-sheet event overview filed with the festival permit application, saying it made it look like the festival would be part of the annual Temple Terrace Reads festival and Fire Department open house. He also questioned how the group came up with an expected crowd estimate of 10,000 for all three festivals. Mora said the existing events usually draw about 3,000, many of them kids.
Paul Woods, the Miami lawyer representing the charity, added a disclaimer to the overview, stating that the city is not a sponsor of the new event. He estimated the total attendees would approach 10,000, with more than 4,000 people being drawn to the food festival and more than 5,000 drawn to the Reads and Fire Department events.
But the kickoff event likely will be smaller than planned, said Adam Bach, who is coordinating the festival for the charity. Event notices were not sent to the media until last week. Bach said a volunteer assigned with that task failed to follow through.
"I can't tell you how many people have let us down,'' he said.
Bach said as of this week he has signed up a dozen food trucks. He expects about 20 vendors to take part, among them the AAA Auto Club, the U.S. Postal Service and KinderCare Learning Centers.
Jeremy Gomez, who organized the "World's Largest Food Truck Rally'' at the Florida State Fairgrounds in August, said many food truck operators did not want to take part in the new event because Bach was asking too much from them. Gomez, who said he met with Bach weeks ago, said the fee quoted to him then was $100 or $150 — he can't remember exactly — plus a percentage of the sales. Gomez said the 99 trucks that took part in rally at the state fairgrounds paid $50 each.
Bach said the food truck fee is $75. The business vendors pay $300 for a 10-by-10-foot space.
Woods told the council in July that he expected the event would raise $10,000 for the homeless. He said 100 percent of the sponsorship and vendor fees, plus 10 percent of the gross sales from vendors, would go to the homeless. That would be after the expenses of putting on the event are paid, Bach said.
Mora said the food festival organizers were eager to join forces with Temple Terrace Reads. Her group rejected the idea, she said, partly because the two causes — schools and the homeless — did not mesh.
Temple Terrace Reads, which promotes literacy, will feature storytelling and performances by area students. School volunteers will sell baked goods and other food to raise money. A food truck rally across the street, Mora said, could cut into the school sales.
City Council member Robert Boss questioned the group's desire to hold such events once a month, like a flea market, and how that would help the city's image. Council member Alison Fernandez, noting her familiarity with fundraising events, questioned the foundation's plan to give such a large percentage of its take to the homeless. Fernandez and council member David Pogorilich noted the lack of information on the charity itself.
America's Life Line Foundation started shortly after the World Trade Center attacks of 2001 as a support group for men and women in the military. Later, it concentrated on homeless veterans. More recently, it has expanded its support to the entire homeless population. Forms filed annually by the charity show a steady decrease in income. In 2002, it listed $35,911 in contributions on the 990 form it filed with the Internal Revenue Service. In 2005, it received $11,631. In 2011, the last available, income totaled just $150.