Thursday, May 10, 2007

Four Corners Gator Cook-Off

Several have asked why we chose not to set up a booth at this year's Four Corners Gator Cook-Off. I will mention it here, as an insight to who we are, but also as a bit of an editorial on the event. First, I must admit that we did not participate last year.(2006) This was due to the fact that we did not know about the event until it was too late to put anything together. At that point we made plans to be involved in this year's event, and were excited to see it announced several weeks in advance in the Reporter. However some things had changed, and significantly affected our decision on involvement in the event.

Primarily, (Soap Box ALERT) They moved the "Four Corners" event into the heart of Touristville, by having it at Formosa Gardens, just between Animal Kingdom and the old Splendid China. A great place for events, an area we all visit, but definitely not Four Corners. This was an obvious attempt by the organizers to increase revenues and attendance. As a local group, I am thankful for our tourists, but if I wanted to meet crowds of out of towners, I could do that anywhere. The Gator cook-off was billed as a community event, but it was moved outside the community and designed for people outside the community.

Secondarily, I was uncomfortable as a parent with the strong focus on alcohol. The event was originally scheduled to be at Four Corners Elementary School in 2006, but moved to Champion's Gate when the organizers were informed that alcohol would not be permitted. This year, they come back with a "Beer Garden" I don't know what gets planted in a beer garden, but I know the weeds that can grow there. I do not want my kids to be around much drinking. I do take them to ball games, and maybe that makes me a bit of a hypocrite, but it seemed that the beer garden was one of the attractions for the event. For me? Not so much.

I read in this morning's paper that they had about 1,000 people show up. a good amount I guess, but I would venture to bet that they were hoping for more. The two things that I found a bit interesting: First, is that for the photo, they took a picture of the Realtor playing the ball toss at his own booth. Why? Probably because no one else was there to be pictured. Did they not have pictures of any local families to include? Second, there were only 5 participants in the gator cook-off. Only 5 individuals were in the running. That means that if I took raw gator meat, I would have come in sixth place. No wonder the reporter failed to find many who were enjoying the gator meat.

In conclusion, I truly love the idea of the cook-off and think that it can be a success that our community really rallies behind. However, they must, in my opinion come home. It must be focused on the community, not the industry. They must reach out to local churches, and organizations, in addition to businesses to really bring it home. Next year, if there is a next year( I hope there is), and if they are in Four Corners, I am going to cook up some gator meat with my special recipe and win one for the home team!