Around The Riverbend: Food vendors get inspected
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Live music may be the main attraction at Riverbend, but the food is just as popular.
Thursday afternoon, Hamilton County health inspectors thoroughly examined each and every vendor station.
Vendors converge on the Riverfront, transforming parking lots into a festival-friendly, fast food mecca.
Tom Marino is an ice-cream vendor from Florida. This is his first Riverbend.
"It's confusing, but it's going to be good," Marino says.
Before they can sell to you, they must pass a thorough health inspection.
"We inspect every booth to make sure there is nothing that would compromise the general health of the public," says Health Inspector Robert Dafoe.
Vendors are graded just like area restaurants before a permit is issued.
"By inspecting and holding our vendors to a higher standard, we can provide service to the general public," Dafoe says.
Lowe Wilkins of the Hamilton County Health Department has been inspecting Riverbend vendors for 22 years.
"When we first started, there were errors made. But now, they know what we expect and they do a great job here," Wilkins says.
Many vendors like Marino sell festival food year round, and are familiar with the health requirements.
"They come in with these huge, self-enclosed mobile units and that makes it easier for them to travel and do a good job just because they have the correct facilities," Wilkins says.
"Everything went fine in my place. The health department was very good to me. I know my stand is above board so everything went fine," Marino says.
Inspectors will be checking each booth daily throughout the festival. If there is a violation, the vendors have 24 hours to fix it before a permit is issued.
Wilkins and his team of inspectors gave passing grades to all 33 vendors on Thursday.