DIXON – Aspiring entrepreneurs put their skills to the test Thursday with managing their first event to showcase area eateries and give people a taste of the Sauk Valley.
The Whiteside Area Career Center’s Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities class had a fundraiser at St. Patrick Church in Dixon bringing a dozen restaurants together.
The “Taste of Sauk Valley” event isn’t a new idea, but this year’s student-driven class was the first to see the project through.
One of the challenges was to schedule all the restaurants together in one place.
“We talked to about 40 different restaurants before settling on these 12,” said Kallie Timmons, a Prophetstown High School senior and one of the project managers.
“Getting people to commit to and send help elsewhere when they are needed in the restaurant was a big obstacle.”
Rhett Roethe from 3-Headed Monster BBQ made the trip from Shannon to share his boneless pork rib bites and smoked brisket sliders, and he was impressed with the students’ efforts.
“The kids worked hard organizing the event and were extremely helpful.” he said.
Businesses were represented from throughout the region, including ZBest West from 50 miles away in Annawan.
“This is great exposure to hopefully get more people from around the Sauk Valley area to come down to Annawan,” employee Eran Salzman said.
But there was more than good eats at Thursday’s event. There also were good tunes.
Prophetstown native Steve Morris and his 15-year-old son Timothy played music during the first half hour.
Cassidy Wilson, a senior at Newman Catholic High School and project manager, said she’s grown a lot through the class, and Timmons agreed.
“CEO has kind of changed my life,” Timmons said. “It takes people who aren’t outgoing and [others who are] outgoing, and teaches us how to work together and build life skills for the future than just learning how to run a business.”
Participating restaurants were El Tapatio, The Factory Pub ‘n’ Grill, Candelight Inn, Mama Cimino’s, That Place on Palmyra, The Boulevard Pub and Grill, Rico’s Gourmet Salsa, Triple P BBQ, Main Squeeze, Folsom’s Bakery, 3-Headed Monster BBQ, and ZBest West.