By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The 17th Annual “Taste of Central Texas,” hosted by Central Texas Youth Services, took place at the Bell County Expo Center, on Thursday, March 29.
“This event is bigger and better than what we have done in the past – typically we are in the Assembly Hall at the Expo Center, with seating for 500, and 30 restaurants are participating. This year we were in the Dome, with seating for 750 and about 40 restaurants, from Bell, Coryell, and McClennan counties participating,” explained Kami Diaz, Executive Director of Central Texas Youth Services. “For the first time, we offered VIP table reservations for $330. We had two cash bars on site, as well as a silent auction. Live music was provided by Horace Williams and the Rob Brooks Band. All proceeds from the even benefit homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth and families in Central Texas and the surrounding area.”
The volunteers helped the over 670 attendees get checked in and into the dome area, where a plethora of tantalizing treats awaited.
“Our troop has adopted Central Texas Youth Services, and we do whatever we can to help them. Our cadets greeted people at the door and helped vendors keep their booth stocked with plates, napkins, and utensils,” stated Suki Hammarlund, Troop Leader of Girl Scouts of Central Texas Troop #6174.
True Texas BBQ, a restaurant inside of the new Killeen HEB, drew a crowd with their brisket and fixings menu.
“Our store isn’t even one year old, so this is our first time to be part of this event. For the first time ever, statistics show that Americans spend on money eating out than they do on groceries Having a restaurant inside HEB makes complete sense,” explained Brian Hardin, True Texas BBQ Department Manager. “You can’t get more Texan than BBQ, and you can’t get more Texan than HEB. We are honored to be here tonight, showing people what we are about.”
Wat The Truck, winners of the 2017 Battle of the Food Trucks and the only food truck participating, offered a sampling of their cilantro lime rice with chicken, or the spicy pork.
“I’m the Vice Chairperson of the Killeen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and we host the Battle of the Food Trucks each year. I’m excited to see Wat The Truck here tonight, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they bring to our event on June 2,” said Myrna Banzon. “I’ve lived in Killeen in for 20 years, and I’ve been coming to the ‘Taste of Central Texas’ as long as I can remember. I enjoy tasting all the different food and meeting new people here.”
The silent auction featured items and services donated by members of the community. Christina Sessums, M.S.W, CNHP, Intern CAHP, is an Integrative Health Coach and an Autoimmune Specialist.
“I donated a new client wellness package, from my business Purely Simple Organic Living Inspired By Nature, including two visits to help balance your body and promote total wellness. I also donated a 60-minute Biomat Session. We are thrilled to be here today, supporting Central Texas Youth Services,” stated Sessums.
Many of the people in attendance Thursday evening are strong community supporters and were appreciative of the opportunity to enjoy fine foods while giving back to a good cause.
“We brought about six staff members here today to support Central Texas Youth Services. We serve many foster children at our practice, and we are happy to attend this incredible event – all of the money raised is going to help children,” remarked Dr. Suzana Harris, of Texas Star Smiles.
Central Texas Youth Services, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, is 100 percent grant and donation funded.
“Cash donations can be made through the administration office – every dollar that is donated, is matched and we have the potential to turn $1 into $10. The donated money multiplies through grants, so every little bit helps,” explained Diaz
Photos by Christopher Winston.