The community will get a taste of South of the Border and an opportunity to support Remote Area Medical at the annual Southern Taco & Tequila Festival Friday, April 28, at Ralph McGill Plaza, 101 N. Campbell Station Road.
Early admission is 5 p.m.; general admission is 6 p.m., and it goes until 9 p.m.
“I’m excited,” said John Volpe, chief development officer with RAM. “It’s going great. We’ve got a great turnout from distributors. Everybody seems very excited about it. Ticket sales are up 64 percent from last year at the same time.”
Almost 70 food, beverage and retail vendors have committed to attend the event.
“We’ve got five food trucks, 10 different retail and the rest are all beverage — tequila, mezcals and beer,” Volpe said. “We’ve got some mixed cocktails also.
“Of course we’ll be supplying non-alcoholic beverages to the designated drivers,” he added.
With all totals combined since the event’s start in 2015, Volpe estimated it has raised about $500,000.
Regarding the event’s success, “I try to keep it a quality event, and I think it’s the area we have it in — there’s nothing on the west side here that does any kind of festival besides what Steve Krempasky (Shop Farragut/Farragut Business Alliance executive director) does,” Volpe said.
“I’m very particular about the vendors that I have, and I think the people who come to it just have a great time,” he added.
“We’ve had people coming to it since the very first one, and they continually come every year.
Cost for the event is $75 for advance early admission, $50 for advance general admission. Designated driver admission is $20.
Volpe expects 1,700 to attend this year’s event.
Tickets can be purchased online at southerntequilafest.com
“We have a limited amount of tickets this year, so buying them early will be smart,” Volpe said.
He started the festival in 2015 when he was managing partner with Abuelos along Parkside Drive.
“This will be our eighth one,” he said. “We had to skip a year because of COVID.”
He recalled in 2013 and 2014 he did a couple of tequila dinners to raise money for Remote Area Medical, which provides free dental, vision and medical clinics in remote areas to under-served and uninsured people.
“The development officer at the time asked me if I could do it for, like, 250 people,” Volpe recalled. A week-and-a-half later he came up with holding the festival.
“I put together a committee, started talking to distributors and made it happen,” he said. “It’s been great.”
After leaving Abuelos in August 2021, Volpe joined RAM. He approached its CEO that year with a proposal to fill the role of RAM’s chief development officer. Aware of Volpe’s passion for RAM, the CEO said, “‘Great,’” Volpe said.
This year, he said the committee has decided to downsize the event a bit “just so the people who do come will have a good time.
“We got really crowded last year,” he added. “We took a look back at last year and said ‘we don’t want it to get that crowded.’ Some our vendors ran out of food, and we didn’t want that to happen again.”
Looking for another venue, “the Town of Farragut’s been great,” Volpe said. After talking with Town staff and Tourism manager Karen Tindal, they moved the location to Mayor Ralph McGill Plaza.
“I think it’s a great location,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of parking all around that area, and I think we’ll have more food vendors this year than we had last year; so it should turn out to be a great time.”