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Jacksonville GastroFest To Celebrate First Coast Food Culture


It’s full speed ahead for a Jacksonville food festival called GastroFest. The organizers have been granted nonprofit status.

Attendees of this year's One Spark Festival might remember a group called GastroJax. Founder and CEO Erin Thursby says an IndieGoGocampaign and other fundraisers since One Spark have made the upcoming festival possible. Thursby is a longtime local food writer and says the Jacksonville dining scene is finally worth celebrating.

“Other food festivals that we’ve had here, they usually focus on one type of food, like, shrimp," she says. "They don’t focus on the entire food culture of the area. And this festival, that’s the aim.”

GastroFest is scheduled for March 21 in Hemming Plaza Downtown. But restaurants from far beyond the urban core are encouraged to apply to be included, Thursby says. In addition to tasting booths, the daylong festival will offer events including a cocktail-making contest at the Candy Apple Café. 

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP