This weekend is going to be a busy time for Chef Jennifer Bopp who manages Toll Gate Cafe in downtown Hamilton, Ala. The cafe celebrates its one year anniversary this weekend. And just outside the restaurant’s doors the city of Hamilton will be hosting SummerFest, a day of showing appreciation to the customers of the town. The festival will include live music, a watermelon eating contest for children and giveaways. Bopp says the Toll Gate will also be hosting special events. “We are going to have a lemonade stand outside the door and if you come in, with a purchase, you will receive a free glass of lemonade,” Bopp said. And for children, face-painting and coloring areas will be available. And like the festival the restaurant will also have drawings for free giveaways. Drawings will be held for free meals including dinner or breakfast for two Bopp said. The restaurant is also participating in the Hamilton Bucks give away. With a purchase at participating Hamilton area businesses a customer can register for Hamilton Bucks. $1300 in Hamilton Bucks will be given away on Saturday at different times during the festival. The bucks spend just like real money and you must be present to win. And to get in on the summer time theme Chef Bopp has created from scratch a lineup of ice creams and sorbets including: rose mary lemon, white chocolate lavender, dutch chocolate mint chip and blackberry cabernet sorbet. Bopp says that the past year in Hamilton has been a huge learning experience. “I’m tired!” she quipped while enjoying a bowl of ice cream inside the restaurant Wednesday evening. “No, really it’s been great. I’ve learned a lot from my first restaurant experience. We’re not going under and we’re doing really great. We’re in a really fun spot.” The SummerFest begins Friday with live music beginning at 6:30 PM and continues on Saturday beginning at 12 noon. To view the festival's FaceBook page click here. Below is a slideshow of Chef Bopp creating the blackberry cabernet sorbet.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org