Eating a way of charity

Joshua Bonney, 2, shows his father Mark Bonney a burrito as they eat with their family during the 13th annual Food Fest Thursday at North Plains Mall.

By Helena Rodriguez

Jalapeno peanut brittle. Shrimp cocktail. Ribs. Strawberry shortcake. Fried wontons. Burritos. Strawberry smoothies. Pizza.
A smorgasbord — from appetizers to entrees to dessert, not necessarily in that order — made for an unbalanced but satisfying dinner for a thousand or so hungry folks at the 13th annual Food Fest on Thursday at North Plains Mall.
Held in conjunction with Pioneer Days, the event serves as a fund-raiser for the United Way.
Laura Prestage said she liked the idea of not having to do dishes. The Junior ROTC member, who was part of the clean-up crew, was one of the first people in line when the two-hour all-you-can-eat event began.
Jessica Aranda of Portales said, “I like the variety of food here, plus it goes to a good cause. The cost is not too bad, either.”
Tickets sold for $7 in advance or $9 for adults at the door for the all-you-can-eat rights at 21 booths.
The upscale Roosevelt Restaurant gave participants a sample of their popular shrimp cocktails and Ceviche, a marinated shrimp dish soon to be featured on their menu. Patrons were able to sample the items at a fraction of the cost they would pay at the restaurant.
Leslie Candy Co.’s booth proved to be popular as they dished out two dozen samples of concoctions, including jalapeno peanut brittle.
“Some people are hesitant to try it,” said owner Greg Southard, “but it is not real hot. It has a lot of flavor. We sell a lot of it all around the Southwest.”
The recently opened Rib Crib restaurant proved popular as did The Soda Fountain, which opened a year ago but is still trying to get the word out. The eatery had workers donned in cow suits scooping out miniature ice cream cones.
Curry County United Way Director Erinn Burch said the group expected to feed close to 1,200 people on Thursday.
According to John Vestal, manager of Domino’s Pizza, the Food Fest was a win-win for the vendors as well.
“This not only helps the United Way, it also gives the restaurants a chance to give back to the community in return,” he said.