A year after moving from Hammond Park to the new City Green park at City Springs, Food That Rocks – A Celebration of Sandy Springs is increasing its size.

The fourth annual event is expected to draw about 2,000 attendees after having about 1,500 in 2018.

“New this year is we’re expanding the footprint, so we will be on the grass at City Springs as well as the surrounding sidewalks, fountains, picnic tables. There will be a lot more seating for people to hang out and enjoy the food and the beverages and the music,” said Dale DeSena, founder of Food That Rocks and the Taste of Atlanta.

Set for June 8 from 6:30 to 11 p.m., the event celebrates food and music in the city.

This year’s participating restaurants include {three} sheets, Battle & Brew, Bishoku, Bogartz Food Artz, Breadwinner Café and Bakery, Casi Cielo, Chef Rob’s Caribbean Café, Cibo e Beve, City Barbeque, Clean Juice, District M, Flower Child, Gus’ Fried Chicken, Hearth Pizza Tavern, Henri’s Bakery & Café, Hudson Grille, il Giallo Osteria & Bar, Kale Me Crazy, Salata, The Select, Southern Bistro, The Springs Cinema & Taphouse Taco Mac, Taqueria Tsunami and Top Bun Gourmet Burgers & Fries, according to the festival’s website. It will also have tastes from Buttermilk Sky and Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Music will be provided by The Biffs, an ’80s tribute band, and DJ Jimmy.

As in years past, Food That Rocks will benefit three Sandy Springs-based charities. This year’s event will raise awareness of and funds for the Community Assistance Center, which provides food and other support to the poor in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs; the Ian’s Friends Foundation, which funds research aimed to treat and cure pediatric brain tumors; and Second Helpings Atlanta, which aims to end hunger in metro Atlanta by rescuing surplus food and delivering it to those in need.

New this year, Food That Rocks will have barrels in the City Springs lobby days before the event and at the festival June 8 collecting donations of nonperishable food (canned or boxed) for the center’s food pantry. Pam Jones, the center’s development director, said food donations decrease during the summer, which happens to be one of the seasons where the need is highest because children are home from school.

“Our largest program is the food program,” she said. “There are approximately 19,500 in our community, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, which are food insecure, according to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. I think it’s shocking to others to hear that.”

Jones said though the center received only about $1,000 last year from Food That Rocks, its share of the proceeds going to charity, the awareness the event raises is priceless.

“I think Food That Rocks has the ability to reach a broader audience that may not be aware of the CAC, and that’s very valuable for us, to make people aware of what we do,” she said.

DeSena said Food That Rocks stands out “because it’s the premier party with a purpose in Sandy Springs celebrating our restaurants and chefs and bartenders alike.”

“I think what’s really neat is having done Taste of Atlanta for 18 years, Sandy Springs is really growing as a restaurant-centric city,” she said. “We are really proud to have seven new restaurants participating at Food That Rocks (for the first time).”

Online advance tickets are $65 for general admission and $75 for VIP first taster, which allows those ticketholders access to the event starting at 6:30 p.m. Prices go up by $10 for those purchasing tickets on the event date.

Food That Rocks organizers are encouraging attendees to use rideshare services for transportation, and the event has even partnered with Lyft to offer a code on its website for a 20% discount on rides.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.foodthatrocks.org.

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