(Ashley Burns, second from left, and her daughter Shantiara Rayford at the Kids Tailgate)
The last time Minnesota hosted the Super Bowl, in 1992, organizers created an event that became a permanent fixture on the pregame party circuit. "Taste of The NFL" was such a hit that it's been held every year since, with this year's event set for Saturday night at the RiverCentre in St. Paul.
This year, the Super Bowl Host Committee created a new food-centric event aimed at kids, and they're hoping that it, too, becames an annual fixture. The Kids Tailgate party drew hundreds of attendees to Target Center, where the main attraction was a line of 10 mini-food trucks serving up healthy snacks created by schoolchildren from across Minnesota.
"I think this is very awesome," said Ashley Burns, whose daughter, 10-year-old Shantiara Rayford, helped submit an entry from Kipp Academy in Minneapolis. "It's a great opporunity for showing them healthy ways of eating and ways of being involved in the community."
That's exactly the response Bob Forrester hoped for. Forrester is chief executive of Newman's Own, the food company created by the late actor Paul Newman that has so far given more than $500 million in profits to charity. Newman's Own Foundation was a sponsor of the event, which featured creations such as Oscar's Touchdown Taco Cups, Ally's Stuffed Peppers, Daijon's Parfait Mountain of Flavor and Sanjay's Fruit & Granola.
"Nutrition and children are priorities, and Minnesota has such a great philanthropic community to work with," Forrester said. "You have an amazing philanthropic community. Cherish it. I mean that."
Marilyn Carlson Nelson, a chair of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, said she was "thrilled" with the event and hopes it continues in the future.
"It's totally inclusive. There are people from all over Minnesota celebrating being alive and being in Minnesota," she said. "For us, the measure of success is how many lives we have touched."
Sean Sherman, founder of the Sioux Chef, was one of the judges who helped winnow down 50 "Super Snack" entries to 10 finalists.
"It was really hard to choose," he said. "They had a lot of great stuff. It's really great to see the kids get super-creative about healthy food."
Sherman has his own big event coming up. He's one of the caterers at the VIP pregame party Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. His offerings: walleye and wild rice cakes, and bison mini-tacos.