BILLINGS — The Billings Depot is one of the city’s biggest event hubs, but like so many, it’s sat mostly empty for over a year.
That’s why the venue is so excited to host its first big public event Friday, with a pairing organizers say just makes so much sense.
“Food in my world brings people together," said Stacked owner and chef Stephen Hindman. "It isn’t just about tacos - it’s about bringing people together, celebrating in most cases our differences. That’s what makes us so great.”
When Hindman was trying to come up with Billings’ next big summer event, Tacos & Tequila was a runaway winner. And after a year of almost no downtown gatherings, people are lining up to be a part of it.
“We opened up ticket sales a week early because we had so much interest in the event to come down and celebrate," said Depot executive director Michelle Williams.
Hindman and 13 other vendors will handle the food, and he knew exactly who he wanted handling the drinks. The Blind Bison has been hosting pop-ups for months in different spaces around town, each one more popular than the last.
“A lot of people were ready to go. Ready to show up, ready to socialize," said Trevan Sparboe, who co-founded Blind Bison with partner Bryan Taylor. "Getting out and being a part of the community again, it’s something that we all do. It’s a necessity.”
“(People) are looking for things to do, and some of those things are taking them out of the community because those events just aren’t here for them to do," Hindman added. "So I think this is an important staging event for what is to come.”
That’s what this group keeps preaching: this is just the beginning of the Magic City’s rebound.
“There are some larger events that we have in the summer that are taking a back seat and not doing what they normally do," Sparboe said. "So it’s time for us to take that over and do some things we think are more fun even.”
“We have this amazing community stage, and we really want to put on that stage what the community wants to see," added Williams. "Everyone is super excited about this. I mean Tacos & Tequila - who doesn’t love that combination?”
It all boils down to a bet on Hindman's simple philosophy:
“The best advertising you can do is to meet people and give them food.”
The event sold out of tickets Thursday morning. The Depot says they are committed to being as safety-conscious as possible. Temperature checks will be performed on guests at the door, and all vendors will be wearing masks.