Students from Pickerington's two high schools will throw a party the first Saturday in May.

It will feature food trucks, live music and a plethora of games and activities, all while spreading a message for peers and people in the community to be drug free.

The Pickerington Food Truck Festival is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. May 4 in Pickerington High School North's Panther Stadium, 7800 Refugee Road.

The event is presented by the local chapters of Drug Free Clubs of America, which are represented at both Central and North. It is organized by members of the clubs at each school.

This is the second year for the Food Truck Festival, which is free to attend. It will feature seven food trucks, inflatable amusements, a sand volleyball tournament, an escape room, live music and raffles for gift baskets.

Additionally, a number of local businesses will be represented with information booths.

The festival was created by Moe English, last year's Drug Free Club president at North, and current club representatives said they hope it becomes an annual event.

Each aspect is planned by club members from both high schools, and this year's president at North, Abby Bebout, said students are reaching out to other clubs at their respective schools to participate.

"The Pickerington Food Truck Festival is a way to give back to the community that raised us and built us up," said Bebout, a senior at North. "It's an event where families can relax and have a good time without putting a strain on their wallet.

"We created the festival to have a safe space for families and students to have fun. We wanted something for the community to be proud of and to showcase the dedication and work of the students who put it together."

Jessica Scruggs, a junior and an officer for North's Drug Free Club, said the festival is "put on to spread awareness, and to give back to those in the community with a fun, interactive day."

The Drug Free Club at each high school was established in February 2015, after the Tyler's Light organization received a $10,000 grant from the Fairfield County Foundation to start programs in the high schools that educated students about the dangers of drugs, as well as rewarded those who stayed drug free.

Tyler's Light is a Pickerington-based organization that seeks to provide information and resources to help people choose a drug-free life and provide resources for family members and friends involved in the battle against addiction.

It was formed by Wayne and Christy Campbell and is named for their son, Tyler, who was a 2007 graduate of PHS North and a football player at the University of Akron. Tyler Campbell suffered injuries playing the sport and during his sophomore season he had shoulder surgery. Not long after, he needed painkillers to get through practices and games and that developed into an opiate-based addiction.

He eventually turned to the relatively cheap and readily available street drug, heroin, and died of an accidental overdose July 22, 2011.

Students who are members of the Pickerington Drug Free clubs pay a $20 membership fee, which supports activities and programs.

They agree to abstain from drug use and submit to a random drug screening during the school year.

Those who remain drug free receive perks, such as free admission to school events and discounts on prom tickets and at local restaurants.

Members said the clubs build leadership skills while also seeking to protect youths from drugs and foster bright futures.

The Food Truck Festival helps to spread those messages to the greater community, while also showcasing partnerships with local businesses and organizations that support the clubs.

"People should attend because the festival is for the community," Scruggs said. "We would not be able to put on this event if those in the community did not participate.

"In addition to this, it is a fun afternoon where everyone can enjoy themselves and partake in the festivities."

Admission to the festival is free, but those attending will want to bring money to indulge in food-truck offerings and certain festival activities.

The clubs also will accept donations at the event and Bebout said students welcome input that might enhance the event next year.

She also encouraged attendance so people can have a fun day outdoors, while also having opportunities to learn more about local businesses and organizations, as well as the benefits of avoiding drugs.

"Last year, I worked in the 'kid corner,' and I loved watching the kids laugh and have fun," Bebout said. "It felt good to have been a part of something bigger than my school.

"We continue to do it as a club to unify Pickerington and create something with a lasting impression.

"People should attend because it'll be a great experience. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible. There's nothing like seeing people having fun, eating good food, and listening to local bands.

"Even if someone stops by just for a few minutes, it'll be worth it because it's free admission."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate