Lindsey Park was home to an America-style festival on Monday. Family-friendly activities for Tyler’s annual Fourth of July celebration began in the early afternoon as guests in national costume awaited a large fireworks display later that night.
But for the local vendors involved in the event, it was more than just a time to celebrate. Food trucks and a variety of businesses filled the park in hopes of generating sales and increasing their reach.
With the opportunity to display their work in front of thousands of Independence Day attendees, the vendors arrived at the park early to set up. They can be seen preparing the curtains and dining tables and organizing other logistics before the big celebration.
Then at 2 p.m., the park officially opened to the public for a day of live music, entertainment, vendors, and more before wrapping up the night with a long-awaited fireworks display.
Ted Kamel, owner of Ted Kamel Foods and former Tyler City Councilman and state representative, was full of patriotic pride ready to serve customers on Monday afternoon.
“This is a day to celebrate the fact that we were blessed to be born and raised in the USA,” Kamel said.
Kamel served as a city councilman from 1984 to 1988 and as a state representative from 1991 to 1999. His food business runs all over Texas and he’s always present at Tyler’s big festivities, he said.
Kamel and his staff already had a batch of customers early in the afternoon to sample some classics like funnel cakes, corn dogs, soft pretzels, french fries, and street tacos—and customers’ favorite snow cones on hot days.
Although the holiday usually attracts large crowds, expect sales to be slightly lower due to the very high temperatures. Monday’s high hit triple digits and the city was under a heat warning for the majority of the day.
Kamal’s game plan to be more efficient with sales was to open for two hours during the afternoon and then reopen as soon as more people showed up at sunset.
Although some people might take a day off to relax and go somewhere out of town, Kamel, who was born and raised in Tyler, said he enjoys participating in events at local parks because it reminds him of his days growing up in town.
“Part of the reason I come here and enjoy doing it on vacation is because I see people that I can’t see all year round,” he said. “We really enjoy what we do, we have it in our blood.”
Other local stores also headed to Lindsey Park to share their products with Tyler. Art stores, clothing stores and souvenir shops were among the sellers on Monday.
Poor Paints, a Whitehouse-based company that hosts painting party events in East Texas, was in the park to demonstrate painting methods and teach clients how to create art.
“Coming here during this holiday is a great way for us to get to know our new startup and meet clients,” said Kiva Wentworth, owner of Poor Paints.
According to Kamel, about 15,000 people congregate at these types of events.
Wentworth said exposure to so many people was one of the reasons she became a saleswoman at the event.
“Hopefully things get really crowded, we’ve already had a lot of people coming in in the last hour,” she said around 3 p.m. on Monday, about an hour after the event kicked off. “We really hope we hit our target for today and get more visibility for our online booking availability.”
When thousands of people gather for public celebrations, food is definitely one of the most important things that people look for.
Kamel said that even in these times when high inflation is affecting business owners and residents, he wants to keep prices affordable for families who may be on a smaller budget.
“You have to keep the prices fair…” Kamel said. “I think that’s what makes this business so popular, the fact that you’ll get your money’s worth and I won’t charge you an arm and a leg to eat.”
The entire city of Tyler and the current Parks and Recreation Council thanked their efforts in making this an annual event for the community.
“The parks and recreation in this city are second to none and I really appreciate the wonderful work they are doing in organizing this event together on a holiday where most people would rather go home with their families,” he said. “I know they get paid, but there’s another aspect to that and that is making sure that citizens have a great way to celebrate our independence.”