Monday marked the return of Evansville’s beloved annual tradition, as the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival kicked off for the 101st time this week. This major fundraiser for local nonprofits features brain sandwiches, puppy chow, pronto pups, and giant tenderloins from the same booths that festivalgoers know and love. Although organizations can retain their booth most years, several new groups are cementing their spot (and munchie prowess) on Franklin Street.
Two nonprofits have parked their fast-food trailers at the Fall Festival for the first time this year. Young & Established, a youth mentoring and advocacy organization, is manning Booth 122, while Building Blocks, which focuses on childcare development, is set up at Booth 126.
“We’ve been on the waiting list for six years, so this has been a great opportunity for us,” says Building Blocks president and CEO Aleisha Sheridan.
Building Blocks serves a savory, filling menu from its booth in front of Bud’s Rockin’ Country Bar & Grill. The eclectic selection includes mini pepperoni rolls, beef empanadas, drink pouches, Popeye salad wraps, chicken quesadillas, puppy chow, cheesecake on a stick, and “chislic,” short for deep-fried marinated sirloin cubes served with a pesto sauce.
The nonprofit is partnering with Chasers Bar & Grill to prep its menu each morning before taking it across the street to its booth. Sheridan says all the food is fresh from Chaser’s kitchen, including the made-from-scratch empanada dough.
The menu is a combination of local favorites and foods from Sheridan and Chaser’s co-owner Sandy Brown’s travels.
“Sandy tried the empanada from a food truck on a trip to Florida, and the chislic is [a] popular dish you can find in South Dakota,” Sheridan says.
“We’ve been consistently busy all day,” she says. “We’ve even had multiple groups return to order the chislic.”
At the Young & Established booth in the parking lot near 11th Avenue, street corn is at the tip of attendees’ tongues. The booth serves three types: regular, hot Cheeto coated, and Grippo’s coated. Also available are creamy crab Rangoon nachos and graham crackers & crème delight made by Ma T 888 China Bistro, the winner for “Best Asian Restaurant” in Evansville Living’s 2022 “Best of Evansville” awards.
“We’ve had a great turnout so far, and the support from the community has just been amazing,” says Courtney Johnson, founder and executive director of Young & Established. “We got the call about a month ago that we were going to have a spot at the Fall Fest, and so we’ve just been preparing since and gathering volunteers.”
Finding volunteers hasn’t been a problem for this new booth. Johnson says the group had more than 40 people volunteer to man the booth. Even some of the children Young & Established serves offered to lend a hand.
“We’ve had really good support this week, and the response has just been phenomenal,” Johnson says.
Counting today, there are only three days left to enjoy the endless options of tasty street food down at the Fall Fest, so give this year’s new booths a try.