All posts by Daisy Silos

Community celebrates opening of Fire Station 12

Irving’s leaders, fire chiefs, and several residents came together to celebrate the grand opening of a new fire station on Thursday, Aug. 10.

Fire Station 12, located off Interstate 635 between Belt Line Road and Olympus Boulevard, will serve the communities of Hackberry Creek, Valley Ranch, and La Villita.

“The grand opening was a celebration of a long time vision,” said Irving Fire Chief Victor Conley. “We’ve got a council and a city management staff that saw the vision become a reality because of all the growth up here in North Irving.”

Construction started in the spring of 2016. This past July, the Joint Fire Training Facility was opened, which is shared with the City of Grand Prairie. The training facility, along with the brand new fire station, have helped Irving receive the Insurance Services Office class 1 rating.

“It’s a win-win for the community and the fire department,” Conley said. “We achieved the ISO 1 rating. For the fire department, all that means is more resources to better serve our community. What the community got was an insurance break.”

A study performed through an international fire organization projected the need for a station in North Irving. The station needed to meet compliance with the national emergency response time, which for a fire-related medical emergency is four minutes and eight minutes.

City councilman Brad LaMorgese said 80 percent of the city was within that eight minute response time, the 20 percent in the north was not.

“Even though our firefighters do a great job and many times could meet that response time, we now know we’re going to be within that response time,” LaMorgese said. “I’ve come to learn from the firefighters that every minute is critical when you’re trying to keep a piece of property from going up in flames and keep people safe.”

Those who attended the grand opening had the opportunity to tour the facility and explore the new fire trucks. The fire station will house an aerial Tiller truck, a fire engine and an ambulance. The Tiller truck is a new concept for Irving that allow firefighters to turn sharp corners to better reach tight areas.

“Each one of these pieces of equipment cost around $1 million or over, so it’s an expensive piece of our budget, but definitely worth it,” LaMorgese said. “Public safety is a vast majority of our budget. Sometimes spending is frowned upon. I want to spend the money wisely and be very responsible with it.”

In order to welcome the new equipment, firefighters and guests participated in the Fire Apparatus Wash Down/Push Back. The new equipment was christened with water before being pushed into the station. The tradition dates back to when horse-drawn fire wagons were used.

“It’s a symbolic tradition we do when we open up a new station,” Conley said. “It signifies that we got new equipment, we’re taking care of it for the community, and it’s ready to respond.”

A ten man crew will be on shift every day, 24 hours a day, including four on the aerial truck, four on the engine truck and two on the ambulance. Many of the crew members worked on cleaning the facility to get it ready weeks before the opening.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said State 12 Fire Captain Darrell Hall. “It’s been a lot of work, it’s been well worth it, and it’s actually kind of a relief for all the guys to actually have a home again. I’m happy that it’s done. The city has really stepped up and given us something that we think is going to serve the city and citizens for a long time.

Summer Games provide friendly competition

 

The tennis courts at Irving High School were filled with children early Monday morning, July 24, to kick off the first week of the annual City of Irving Parks and Recreation Summer Games. The two week competition features a variety of challenges including softball, chess and dodgeball for people ages 11-17. Challengers are separated into two groups: youths (11-14) and teens (15-17). The top three winners from each age group receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal.

“Some kids will start to collect medals for every event they’re in, and they wear them all week long for whichever event they won,” Della Jones, a Senior Recreation Specialist at Lee Park Recreation Center said. “We really want the kids to communicate and socialize with other kids, but the main thing is to keep them very active in the summer and to keep them coming to the rec center. Once they get to a certain age, they think they’re too old for the rec center, and we want to make sure they keep coming back to us.”

All seven recreational centers in Irving were represented, as participants began training at the beginning of the summer for each game they signed up for.

“We practiced every week from 4-5 and 5-6,” Joshua Buckett, a Lee Park participant, said. “We practiced everything that we play in the summer games like volleyball, basketball, and dodgeball during the week. The summer games are a lot of fun, and the practice really helps prepare you for the actual tournament.”

Buckett has participated in the summer games for the past three years and has won medals in dodgeball, football and volleyball. This year, Buckett decided to try a new sport.

“This is my first year playing tennis. I didn’t know I was going to be this good,” Buckett said. “I wanted to try something new just to compete with other kids, and it sounded like fun.”

Day one of the summer games began with a tennis tournament with over 20 participants. Each player was guaranteed two rounds of play.

“We did not expect this many kids for tennis,” Jones said. “This is the biggest turnout we’ve had and have a lot of kids return each year. Some of the teens, once they get to a certain age, start working so they can’t participate and play like they used to. It’s mostly youths who are returning players.”

The games continued with dominoes and chess in the afternoon at Lively Pointe.

Mustang participant Tharun Sobanbabu (13) was one of the few tennis players that went on to pla chess. 

“I liked tennis because it was more active,” Sobanbabu said. “It was also the hardest, because there wasn’t a lot of competition for chess like there was for tennis.

“I don’t really like just staying at home. I wanted to do something with my summer and I like sports. I’m good at sports, so I wanted to do the summer games.”

Sobanbabu placed second in youth tennis and first in chess. He is signed up to participate in every single sporting event except dominoes.

“It was a lot of fun because everyone got together to play sports, and there was a lot of good people showing good sportsmanship,” Sobanbabu said. “I would love to come and play again next year.”

Tiller trucks latest advancement for Irving Fire Department

 

The Irving Fire Department is adding two new tractor drawn, aerial trucks, most commonly known as Tiller trucks, to its firefighting arsenal. Irving is the second city in Texas using these trucks, Dallas being the first.

Tiller trucks are designed to better maneuver around congested areas and narrow streets around town. Driving a Tiller truck is a two-man job.

“The vehicle has been in the fire service for a very long time, but it’s a relatively new concept in the South,” Assistant Fire Chief Tony Harvey said.

The Irving Fire Department began doing research on the Tiller trucks in late 2014.

“With some of the construction and stuff going on in the city, it has started becoming denser and more populated in tighter spaces,” Station 12 Captain Darrell Hall said. “We realized we have places that some of our equipment has trouble getting into.”

A committee approached the Irving City Council to propose the purchase of the trucks. Committee members even took a trip to the West Coast in July of 2015 to observe Tiller trucks in action.

“We set up a trip to California,” Hall said. “California has a lot of departments that have Tillers, because they’ve been tight quarters for a long time. They showed us their trucks, let us drive their trucks, and showed us what they were capable of doing. Even more important for us, it told us what you should do and what you should not do.”

The committee studied the concept for two years before presenting the idea to the council.

“We made the presentation and the council approved it,” Harvey said. “They actually approved two of these Tiller trucks, so we’re really excited about getting them in service.”

One of the trucks will be going to Station Three to cover the southern part of Irving, and the other will be going to Station 12, which is slated to open in July, to cover the northern part of town. All the personnel assigned to the two stations have received over 40 hours of Tiller training to learn how to operate the front end and the back end of the trucks while maintaining constant communication with one another through wireless headsets.

“The Tiller truck has a standard driver and in the back is the trailer, which also has a steering wheel. That driver is called the Tiller man,” Hall said. “He can steer the back of the truck so we are able to maneuver around some pretty tight areas. We want each guy to be crossed trained in both locations, so no matter what situation comes up, we can get the job done and get it done safely.”

Crew members trained on courses designed to simulate different street layouts and hard to reach areas.

“There’s four different scenarios we have to drive through,” fire equipment operator Steven Hall said. “A lot of this is stuff we’ve done before but on straight axle equipment, so whenever you get to do this on a Tiller rig, it’s a totally different game. We’ve spent several hours getting used to that before we actually start driving on the road with the public.”

The new trucks also give firefighters more space to store equipment.

“We’ve got so much compartment space that we have not had in the past,” Darrell said. “The trucks are set up for firefighting and rescue operations. Every piece of equipment has a place now. It’s wonderful to be able to have so much space that even as the department needs to change we can put more equipment on the truck, which we haven’t had the ability to do in the past.”

The trucks are scheduled to go into operation in July once Station 12 opens. There is the possibility more than two Tiller trucks could be protecting Irving in the future.

“Our personnel who’ve been training on them ask questions like, ‘How come we didn’t do this 20 years ago?’” Harvey said. “Maybe when another station comes up for a ladder truck replacement, it could be a consideration.”

Landfill urges residents to recycle

 

Six days a week, garbage trucks drive through Irving picking up curbside trash and hauling it to the Hunter Ferrell Landfill.

The landfill is about 300 acres of land, but only about 150 acres are used for waste disposal. The rest serves as buffer to distance the site from their neighbors. The city’s Solid Waste Services Department provides manual bag collection service, brush and bulky waste collection and a recycling program. Nearly 80 percent of waste can be recycled, and Brenda Haney, Director of Solid Waste Services, would like residents to utilize the recycling program.

“Seventy to 80 percent of what comes out of a garbage truck is recyclable,” Haney said. “We want the waste out here to degrade because that becomes less of a problem for generations ahead of us. We’re trying to minimize the environmental impact we have on today’s generations and all the future generations that have to deal with this footprint.”

Residents can bring recyclable materials to the landfill’s recycling drop off seven days a week, or they can place their recyclable materials on the curb in a blue transparent bag. The trash that is not recycled goes into the working face. The working face is a specified portion of the landfill where trash is compacted and covered at the end of every day.

“It is an area 50 feet by a 100 feet where we put trash for that day,” Haney said. “We’ll build to a specified height each day. We will put six inches of soil on the area that we’re not going to go back on top of. It’s kind of like a wedge that you progress each and every day.”

Haney has been working at the landfill for 17 years. Throughout her career, she has seen all sorts of things thrown into the landfill from hunting licenses, large amounts of money, and even wedding rings.

“You’d be surprised how often it happens on trash day,” Haney said. “As soon as you recognize that you’ve thrown something away, call our main number so we can stop the truck. If you think you might have thrown something away that was from last week, forget it because every day we’re moving the waste operation and I can’t go back and open up where we were a week ago.”

In May, Monica Brown accidentally threw away her wedding rings. Once Brown realized her rings were missing, her husband contacted the Solid Waste Services Department.

“They could actually pinpoint the truck and would work with him to search,” Brown said. “They said if we had been any slower, it would’ve been dumped. They took the truck and pulled it aside and basically emptied everything into three piles.”

After only ten minutes of searching, her husband and Robert Salinas, section chief of the landfill, found the rings.

“We celebrated our 27th anniversary in June,” Brown said. “We thought that was so kind, because who would want to dig through trash? We were just tickled they were even willing to try. They went the extra mile.”

Finding the rings was a team effort since the Browns were quick to communicate with the landfill and willing to dig through trash to look for the rings.

“This landfill doesn’t smell,” Salinas said. “We do a really good job here and we don’t have any odors. We’ll have people who want to stand and wait here next to the building instead of going all the way to the working face because they’re afraid. They think they’re going to be buried in trash, and it’s going to be nasty, and yucky, and smelly, and dirty; and it’s just not the case.”

The Solid Waste Services Department wants to help residents make better use of their recycling program and let residents know they are available to answer any questions residents may have regarding trash disposal.

“The recycling program is a win-win,” Haney said. “I think it’s a valuable asset for the community to have the ability to manage the waste we are generating. We want them to manage their waste as appropriately as possible, because that makes our life that much easier in the long run.”

Texas Workforce Commission updates businesses on employment laws

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) hosted the Texas Business Conference on Friday, June 16 at the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth. The event featured sessions pertaining to employment law.

“We put these on across the state so we can educate employers about employment law, unemployment claims and the appeals process, as well as state and federal laws and regulations,” Ruth Hughs, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers, said. “We are committed to providing employers with the information they need to succeed. The Texas Business Conference brings valuable resources to effectively navigate employers through state and federal employment laws.”

The TWC holds this conference two times a year to reach out to as many people as possible from all over the state.

“We want to give employers the resources they need so they can grow their business and continue to operate and expand and not be worried about whether or not they’re in compliance,” Hughs said. “There are so many laws and regulations they need to stay ahead of, and we’re trying to be a resource to help them so they can focus on their business. We found it to be incredibly helpful to employers to navigate all the myriad rules and regulations that they need to stay ahead of.”

Darla McCuen, co-owner of Kookie Haven, attended the conference before the grand re-opening of her bakery in July. McCuen and her family started a bakery in Mesquite and are now in the process of moving to the Bishop Arts area. She attended the conference because her bakery will soon hire employees from outside of the family.

“We’re trying to learn the rules and regulations, because we want to make sure that we’re in compliance,” McCuen said. “We want to make sure we’re following the rules, and it’s just a world of information.”

Between sessions, McCuen spent some one-on-one time with one of the guest speakers, William (Tommy) Simmons. One of the main topics Simmons talked about during the conference was wage and hour law.

“That topic is always on our agendas at every Texas Business Conference because pay related questions are the most frequently asked,” Simmons said. “We get more questions about wage and hour law than probably any other topic.”

During the conference, TWC provides attendees with a copy of a reference book, Especially for Texas Employers. The book provides information on employment issues.

“I think the main benefit from being at a conference like this is employers have a chance to find out that there are actually people available at the workforce to help them as employers and who want to help them and make sure all their questions get answered,” Simmons said.

The workforce receives about 1,200 calls a month. Employers can call Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-800-832-9394.

“I think one of the greatest things is that we have access to them,” McCuen said. “We can call them and they’ve given us their phone numbers. The way it’s presented makes it feel like we can reach out to them. We can call them and they’ll answer our questions. I think that’s going to be the greatest benefit that I leave with today, because there’s so much information.”

Wounded warrior race supports veterans

 

More than 3,000 runners from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area woke up early Sunday morning, June 11, to race around the Urban Center as part of the ninth annual Wounded Warrior Military Miles half marathon, 10K, and 5K.

A post-race party followed the race with food, drinks, and live music. The race is put together by Dallas Athletes Racing and the money raised goes to three military charities: Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House and Team Red White and Blue (RWB).

“There’s not a singular purpose, there are multiple purposes for this event,” said executive producer for Dallas Athletes Racing (DAR) Tom Ryan.

“If you look at one, it’s the whole energy that surrounds the military support here in the United States that’s the glue, but at the same time we’re heavy into health and fitness,” he said. “You combine high profile, active, benefitting charities along with health and fitness in a very active city; it’s a great recipe.”

DAR has partnered with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) since the beginning of this event.

“Our original partner is Wounded Warrior Project, and then we added Fisher House, and last year added Team RWB,” Ryan said.

WWP provides a variety of services, programs, and events for wounded veterans of the military following 9/11. Fisher House helps military families by providing them a place to stay at no cost while a loved one receives treatment. Team RWB is the newest partner charity to benefit from this event. They supports veterans making the transition from military to civilian life.

Members from all three of the organizations actually ran the course and participated in the race. Jim Theisen, a member of Team RWB, ran the race before Team RWB became a partnering charity.

“I’ve run this race ever since its inception,” Theisen said. “I do this race every year because it supports the military and I’m a Vietnam veteran. I run it for the people overseas who cannot run it.”

The race grows bigger each year and brings more awareness to the partner causes. For the first time, Exeter Finance, a subprime auto finance company, gathered a group of their employees to volunteer and participate in the race.

“We have a program in our company called Xvets, so we recruit a lot of veterans to come work for our company,” said Hart Jackson, executive assistant for Exeter Finance. “When we found out about this run, we wanted to make sure some of our veterans and our employees got out here and participated.”

Jackson said it is important to show support for the veterans and military and he hopes to participate in all future Wounded Warrior races.

“I hope this is definitely something we continue doing, because this is who we recruit to work for us, our veterans,” Jackson said. “We are really big on recruiting veterans in our company. It’s just a great cause to support.”

Next year, the Wounded Warrior race will celebrate its 10-year-anniversary and Ryan is glad that the event continues to grow.

“This year we had more runners, the most vendor support we’ve ever had, and we’ve raised thousands and thousands of dollars for our three charity partners,” Ryan said. “The event is a win-win because it helps the charities, it helps the athletic community, it brings awareness to the charities, and it brings awareness to health and fitness in the community.”

The city of Irving will once again host the race next year for the 10-year-anniversary. Ryan said he hopes to go ‘big’ to celebrate the milestone.

“I don’t know what ‘big’ means today, but it will certainly give us more of an opportunity to celebrate 10 years,” Ryan said. “It has its own kind of buzz, so we have to support that buzz somehow.”

Lit’s Alive program brings classic literature to life

Children and their parents spent a stormy afternoon at the South Irving Public Library enjoying the Lit’s Alive: Little Prince Tea on Saturday, June 24. The Lit’s Alive program brings classic literature to life.

“We pick classics that we celebrate,” teen services librarian Kristin Trevino said. “Those of us who grew up loving it, introduce it to the new generation. The program is designed to be multi-generational for all ages to enjoy.”

For this event, the librarians along with members of the Young Adult Action Council (YAAC) offered craft stations relating to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s novel. The event included snacks and a screening of the film adaption.

“We decided to do Little Prince in the summer because it went with our teen summer theme which is, “Out of this World.” The Little Prince and the asteroid seemed like a perfect tie in,” Trevino said.

YAAC is a group of young adults who have a passion for reading and help create programs for the community.

“We like to organize book themed events for the community,” Erick Adame, a member of YAAC, said. “Everything is free. We always have snacks and a bunch of activities for everyone to do.

“We have little activities for people to do that correlate to the movie. We thought they would be fun for the whole family and easy for everyone to do.”

The stations included building an airplane magnet out of craft sticks, making a headband with fox ears, and creating a flower pen.

Irving resident and avid reader Kim Kirk brought two of her children, Ethan (11) and Katelyn (6), to the event.

“We like all of the programs, but we like the Lit’s Alive one because we really like classic literature,” Kirk said. “My older ones, although they enjoy the movie, they mostly come for the snacks. My little one especially likes the crafts, but it’s a great family event.”

Kirk is subscribed to the library’s newsletter in order to keep up with their events. She tries to make time for her family to routinely visit the library.

“I love books,” Kirk said. “From the time they were born, I’ve tried to share my love of books with them. My oldest son literally took his first steps at the library’s story time when he was a year old, so it’s just a part of our family.

“The library is really evolving, and the way that I see it, Irving is ahead. They’ve got their finger on the pulse when it comes to what the community wants and really meets those needs.

“I think probably 30 years ago when I was just a little girl, they had some neat things to do, but nothing like what my kids are getting to experience. Back then, the library was a place to go and check out books. It’s not just a place to come check out a book any more, it’s more of a community center.”

Kites soar high for Father’s Day

 

Children and their fathers filled the Sam Houston Trail Park to celebrate Father’s Day a little early by participating in the Father’s Day Kite Flying event on Saturday morning, June 16.

“We wanted to do something special for our fathers who live here in Irving,” Dante Harris, a recreation specialist for Cimarron Park Recreation Center, said. “This is the only event we have for kids and their fathers, so we thought this would be perfect.”

For five dollars, families received all the materials needed to build a kite. Markers were available to add their own personal touches. The event brings together children and their fathers by working as a team to build the kite.

“We buy the kites, and the fathers help the kids put them together,” Harris said. “It’s a process, but the best part about it is the kids get the markers and the colors and write their names, draw pictures and personalize it. Then they go out and fly them. We think it’s great.”

Sanjay Mehta brought his two daughters, eight-year-old Rihi and fifteen-year-old Anusha.

“My wife looked to see if there were any Father’s Day events and she found this,” Sanjay said. “Kite flying is very big in India.”

The Mehta’s said the most difficult part of the event was the kite building process.

“First we put it on the wrong side, and the rods kept on falling apart in my kite,” Rihi said. “I like flying the kite, because I get to enjoy running around with the kite.”

Hari Patadia and his son, twelve-year-old Vandan, also struggled to assemble the kite.

“The first time we tried it, it just tore up,” Vandan said. “One of the volunteers here just came over to us and asked if we needed help. They were very nice and kind.”

Hari was also thankful for the volunteers’ help.

“Kite building was a bit tricky in our initial state, but the volunteers were here and they were teaching us how to do everything,” Hari said. “With their guidance, we’ve done extremely good. After seeing the process of everything, it was very easy.”

“The Father’s Day Kite Festival is a great experience. My son and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s one of our favorite things to fly kites. It’s a very great experience, a very good initiative with a lot of enjoyment.”

More than 40 fathers signed up for the kite flying event this year. Harris hopes to see greater participation next year.

“I would like to have a lot more people,” Harris said. “It would be wonderful to see this field littered with kids and their fathers, that’d be perfect.”

Memorial Day Service honors Irving’s veterans

Irving residents united to pay tribute to the veterans who gave their lives in service to our country during the annual Irving Memorial Day Service presented at the former Irving Central Library Auditorium on Sunday, May 28.

The ceremony was hosted by the Irving Veterans Memorial Park Committee. Sharon Barbosa-Crain, a committee member, feels it is important to remember the people who serve and fight in extraordinary events such as wars.

“It’s important to remember that we’re not celebrating war; we are honoring those who had to take part in war,” Barbosa-Crain said. “We do the programs, so we give people in the community the chance to come together themselves in a community fashion to honor those folks.”

Army veteran and Irving resident Johnny Lopez attended the ceremony and referred to Memorial Day as one of the happiest days of his life.

“I am celebrating beyond words,” Lopez said. “I served, but I didn’t give all, so I am so happy to be here to honor those that did give all.”

Lopez looks forward to the Memorial Day ceremony every year. This year’s ceremony included patriotic musical performances by The Silvertones under the direction of Woody Schober.

“I always get moved when they play the selections where you stand for whatever branch you represent,” Lopez said. “I think it’s just so neat, and The Silvertones make it fabulous.”

Corporal Kirk Mansfield of the United States Army served as the event’s Moment of Reflection speaker.

“I came from a very military family, most of the males on my dad’s side were career Army or Air Force,” Mansfield said. “When I was in high school, both September 11 and the invasion of Iraq occurred.

“I thought, worst case scenario I’ll retire after 20 years, or I can go get a college degree. I thought it was kind of stepping stone for a future either way. I quickly realized by the first deployment that I did not want to stay in for 20 years and college seemed to be a much better option.”

After serving five years, Mansfield went to Dallas Baptist University to earn a degree in history as well as a teaching certificate. He currently lives in Irving and is a history teacher at Birdville High School. He really enjoyed the program and plans to attend all future events put on by the committee.

“I thought the event was astonishing.” Mansfield said. “I loved it. I thought it was kind of the perfect blend of paying tribute to those that have gone before us in the spirit of the Memorial Day service, but it was also a good tribute celebrating America.”

“We hope we’re able to reach more people, so they have an opportunity to honor those people who have done something extraordinary for us,” Barbosa-Crain said. “People really appreciate the fact they can come together in a community way to remember them.”

Taste of Irving serves more than food

The smells of burgers and barbecue filled the air of Cimarron Park on Saturday afternoon, May 19. Food trucks and restaurant vendors from all over the city were in attendance for the fourth annual Taste of Irving event.

The celebration featured over 20 different food vendors selling a wide variety of food, local merchants selling handmade items, cooking demonstrations, live musical performances, and activities for children.

“The purpose of any of our events is to introduce Irving to people who aren’t familiar with everything that it has to offer,” Jasmine Lee, special events coordinator for the City of Irving, said. “With a theme like Taste of Irving, we can support and recognize our local restaurants and our local crafts and artist vendors. It’s a way to bring everybody together and the community can come and have fun as well.”

The one day event draws over 5,000 people each year.

“Every year our surveys tell us people want more,” Lee said. “The great thing about this festival is that it’s really affordable; of course parking and admission are free. All of the food is sold for $5 or less, so it makes this an easy event for families to come out and enjoy and hopefully find a new favorite restaurant.”

A restaurant that has participated in Taste of Irving since the beginning is Aspen Creek. Aspen Creek managing partner Chad Tuck decided to participate in Taste of Irving when he took over the restaurant four years ago.

“I’ve done festivals like this before,” Tuck said. “It’s a good way to get some exposure. It’s been an awesome thing to be a part of, being able to get out there in the community, letting people know who we are and what we’re about.”

Aside from having food and merchant vendors, the festival also brought in performers for their main and second stages.

The main stage had musical performances from three different bands, The Obscure Dignitaries, Bollywood Productions and Havana NRG. The theme for the main stage was cultural music.

The second stage, or the culinary stage, featured chef instructors and culinary students from the Art Institute of Dallas, providing live demonstrations of various menu items from the student-run restaurant, the Chef’s Gallery.

“After every demonstration they hand out free samples to the first 50 people so people can actually get some free food at Taste of Irving in addition to the low cost food from the vendors,” Lee said.

LeAnn Thompson attended Taste of Irving specifically for the culinary demonstrations.

“I immediately came to the demonstration,” Thompson said. “With me being a chef, I’m interested in the culinary end of it.”

Culinary demonstrator Mark Scharninghausen, a current student at the Art Institute, demonstrated how to cook couscous with minced herbs and sautéed shrimp with pesto.

“It’s a really simple dish, it’s tasty, it’s really easy, and you can make it in less than 30 minutes at home,” Scharninghausen said.

This was Scharninghausen’s second time at the Taste of Irving doing live demonstrations and he hopes people realize that cooking is not something to be intimidated by.

“I hope they pick up a little bit more knowledge about cooking and seeing that it isn’t as scary as everybody thinks it is,” Scharninghausen said. “Some of the dishes they see look really, really fancy, but they’re actually fairly simple to make. It’s all about presentation.”

Taste of Irving has become an annual tradition for Irving residents, and with the amount of success it’s garnered it will only continue to grow.

“The event has been a success all four years,” Lee said. “We’ve been really fortunate. We’ve always had a great crowd, it’s really enjoyed, and Irving comes out in full force.”