What is quickly becoming a local dynasty began with an effort to strengthen the community. Rainer Galgana, who was working in financial services, and his friend Noel Casimiro, a nightlife marketing pro, were both serving as officers in the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. Last spring, they stepped up to help redevelop the annual Fiesta Filipino event and perhaps surprised themselves with the outcome. “The first year, there were two to five thousand people, and third year, when we teamed up, there were 18,000 people,” Galgana said. “It was tremendous. We used some grassroots technique and got the community involved, and it made us imagine what if we did this full-time.”
- Las Vegas Foodie Fest
- November 2-4, times vary, $8-$12, Silverton, lasvegasfoodiefest.com.
They decided to go all-in, grabbing up family and friends to help create Red Dragon events and promotions. You’ve likely seen, and sampled, their work: After Fiesta Filipino, they created the Las Vegas Asian Food Festival last fall, a family-friendly carnival-style event that returned for its second year weeks ago. Then they fashioned the Las Vegas Foodie Fest, a three-day extravaganza featuring more than 40 food trucks and vendors and ongoing entertainment, which is back for another round this weekend at the Silverton.
Galgana said Red Dragon events are distinguished by the philosophy behind the promotion. “We are focused on what really drives value for our patrons, but we also care about our vendors and solicit a lot of feedback,” he said. “At other events, you might see separate lines for food and drinks because the casinos as (hosting venues) have a tendency to take control of beverages. That doesn’t make sense for us. We actually pay for the rights of the trucks to serve drinks because it makes the customers and the trucks happy. We lose revenue but it’s the right thing.”
Drawing extra attention to this weekend’s festivities will be Friday morning’s caravan of 20 food trucks up the Strip, starting at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign and rolling north to Sahara Avenue before flipping a U-turn (can food trucks do U-turns?) and continuing south to Blue Diamond Road. It’s a simple exercise, one designed to draw attention to the Foodie Fest and to food truck culture in general.
Red Dragon is still on the rise. Galgana is hoping to move the Asian foodfest to May to coincide with Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and the crew is developing the Las Vegas Kids Fest, which he describes as a “mini theme park, so families don’t have to drive to California.” Each event has a charitable component; the Asian Food Festival raised funds for Ronald McDonald House and the Foodie Fest will benefit Three Square. “We think we’ve turned some heads and have built some momentum,” Galgana said.