by Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
PORT ORANGE - It's been a local tradition for the last 16 years, offering free and low-cost family fun.
Now, as Port Orange Family Days prepares for its 17th event - once a small community block party, now a four-day festival - Jill Geddy, Executive Director of the Family Days Community Trust, believes this year's event will be "our best year ever."
"We've got great support from the community," Ms. Geddy said. "Our Community Expo sold out quickly so a lot of people are interested in being here. We're thinking we're going to have a great event."
Booths for the Community Expo, which features around 300 local businesses and organizations on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, sold out before the end of July, a record for Family Days.
"We sold out the last six or seven years," Ms. Geddy said. "But never that early."
New to this year's Family Days is the Food Truck Bazaar, a traveling convoy of Orlando-area gourmet food trucks. The trucks will come to City Center Circle on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m., the same night a car show and school band concert will take place.
Ms. Geddy said the food trucks proved very popular on their first visit to Port Orange earlier in the year.
"We had a small version at our Spring Fair and it was well received, so we're bringing that to Family Days for the first time," she said.
According to TheDailyCity.com, which promotes the Food Truck Bazaar, 15 trucks are scheduled to appear at Family Days, including Cafe Rouge, Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, Twisted Cuban, Firehouse BBQ, Ice Cream Social Club and New Smyrna Beach-based Cafe Heavenly.
Also new this year is Family Days Star Search, a talent show that will take place Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Kenneth W. Parker Amphitheater from 7 to 9 p.m. Ms. Geddy said the show will feature 12 participants from the Central Florida area that were pared down from YouTube auditions.
"Talent lurks everywhere, and Family Days is showcasing some of our neighbors who can sing, dance, play instruments, stack cups and the like," said Family Days president John E. Evans, who will emcee the event.
Three judges - jazz singer Linda Cole, musician and radio broadcaster Alan Rock, and entertainment reporter Allison Walker - will narrow down the field from 12 to four, and the audience will act as "the other judge" with Family Days staff using audio measurements to determine the audience's reaction to each of the top four performers. The top four will split $2,500 in cash prizes, with the first place winner receiving $1,000.
The Family Days carnival, open all four days of the event, will feature an opening night special of $1 rides on Thursday and wristbands for time-specific access to the carnival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a $5 discount offered Sunday with a coupon from the Family Days website, familydays.com.
The Family Days Parade will start at 10 a.m. Saturday and run from City Center Parkway to the Lakeside Community Center. Spruce Creek High School's state champion girls weightlifting and baseball teams will serve as the parade's grand marshals, and will also be recognized at the parade's end during the Champions Celebration at the Amphitheater.
On Friday night at the Amphitheater will be a Movie Under the Stars, showing "Ice Age: Continental Drift" starting at 7 p.m. There will be music, games and giveaways before the movie starts and refreshments will be available at a concession stand.
Ms. Geddy said Family Days has always been about trying to offer free and low-cost entertainment, and she works to make every year's event better than the last.
"We try to bring out things the community tells us are interesting to them," she said.
Family Days hours
October 4 - 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
October 5 - 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
October 6 - 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
October 7 - 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For complete information on the event, go to www.familydays.com.