Posted on August 1, 2019
By Caitlan Butler
The Candley family of El Dorado is preparing to hold their second street festival of the year, the Summer Delights Food Festival, this Saturday in downtown El Dorado in partnership with the Coalition of Black Professionals and Main Street El Dorado.
“Food is a common denominator for a lot of things,” said Curttina Candley, an employee at Candley’s Cookin’ who helped to organize the festival. “Food, family and fellowship, that’s how it goes. That’s like our whole ideal.”
Candley said her family operates Candley’s Cookin’, a food truck and catering service based in El Dorado. Her mother, Shelia Candley-McGhee, and aunt, Valerie Candley-Lumsey, are the owners.
Fans of food festivals themselves, the Candley’s decided to give El Dorado a taste.
“We wanted to bring that whole vibe to El Dorado,” Candley said. “And we wanted to create opportunities for other food trucks to get better known as well. The food trucks are like a community.”
In April, the Candley’s held their first festival, the Tri-State Food Truck Festival, bringing vendors from across Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana to El Dorado for their first street festival.
Several vendors and entertainers were forced to pull out of the festival shortly before it was scheduled, due to rain. Candley said she has high hopes that this weekend’s festival will fare better with only a 40 percent chance of rain forecasted.
“I think the weather is going to hold up for us this time,” Candley said.
The Summer Delights Food Festival again brings vendors from across Arkansas to provide a taste of the state to El Dorado. Vendors will offer foods ranging from sweet and savory desserts to spicy Cajun seafood to vegan and vegetarian options.
Food vendors include Candley’s Cookin’, Mortuary BBQ, Roll It! Frozen Ice Cream, Pop Goes the Kernal Kettle Corn and Pork Rinds, Chicken Wangs III, Sandra Rose Kitchen, Keidra’s Kandy Kitchen, Kona Ice Team 501 and more, Candley said.
“Grab a wristband, because we want to try to get a count of how many people are coming so that we can get different food trucks and different people coming,” she added. “It’s free, the whole thing is free – to come in, to park. We’re not charging entry, so just come in, grab a wristband, grab a plate and have fun.”
Entertainment will also be provided. DJ Raw, of Little Rock, will emcee the festival, which will include performances from artists of all genres, including some based here in El Dorado.
Trey Reed, Made in America, J2W and Off the Cuff will give performances, as will the Golden Glitz Dance Team. She Plus, a fashion boutique, will put on a fashion show as well.
Non-food vendors and non-profit organizations will also have booths at the festival. The CALL in Union County, the Union County Animal Protection Society and the Barton Library will be in attendance to provide information to festival-goers about their causes.
Candley said it is important to her family that attendees stop by the non-profit booths to learn about them.
“We just ask that people go by, give a donation of any size or hear about their cause,” she said. “Local businesses, small businesses and non-profits are the heart of our community.”
There will also be activities for children at the festival, including bouncy houses, face painting and bowling. All of downtown besides Main Street will be blocked off for the festival.
“We’re bringing a variety of food and fun, family fun, to the area, so if you want to see more happen in the area, it’s good to come be a part of it,” Candley said. “Food, family, fellowship is what we’re about. It’s a bit of clean fun that you can bring your whole family to.”
The Candley family hopes to continue organizing twice-yearly food festivals for El Dorado residents. Candley said serving the community is a passion for everyone at Candley’s Cookin’.
“We love catering to people, we love serving our food, and if you support a food truck, you’re more than likely supporting a family’s dream,” Candley said. “With Candley’s Cookin’, we do the catering and the food truck, but we also do non-profit work where we set up in our family’s lot and we serve people, just come up and get a plate. … We’re about community and family. To us, that’s just everything.”
The Summer Delights Food Festival will be held, rain or shine, in downtown El Dorado this Saturday, Aug, 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival is free to attend, though the Candley family asks that attendees get a free wristband when they arrive.
To learn more about the Summer Delights Food Festival, visit facebook.com/eldofoodfest, Instagram @eldofoodfest or email email@example.com.
Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.