FARGO — The sun was bright and the breeze was brisk as the food trucks set up Tuesday morning, Sept. 17.
Soon, the air filled with enticing aromas and smiles bloomed on the faces of the growing lunch crowd.
"This is a great culmination of everyone getting together and remembering Jay for who he was and not what happened," said Kate Holten, who helped organize Tuesday's event in the parking lot of Fargo Cass Public Health in south Fargo.
"Jay" is Jay Halvorson, who was a food truck operator and Holten's fiance until one night this past June, when Halvorson was shot to death near his Texas Q BBQ food truck near downtown Fargo.
Two men were arrested shortly after the shooting and are now awaiting trial on murder charges in Cass County District Court.
Court records state one of the men charged told police that after getting into an argument with Halvorson, they left to get guns and returned to his food truck to confront him. What prompted the initial confrontation remains unclear.
But Tuesday wasn't a day to talk about the eventual serving of justice, according to Holten. Instead, she said it was a day to focus on Halvorson and what he meant to the community, particularly the food truck world.
"I want everyone to celebrate his life's work and food truck was his everything," said Holten, who was instrumental in bringing Tuesday's event together as a way to remember Halvorson.
It was also intended as a fundraiser to help Halvorson's family financially and possibly help pay for a lasting memorial of some kind, according to Michelle Rohrich, a cousin of Halvorson's.
"All these trucks worked with Jay, and he was always advocating for the food truck industry," Rohrich said, adding her cousin was probably watching the morning activities from above.
"I'm sure he is looking down pretty impressed. He should be here cooking, that's for sure," added Rohrich, who is helping efforts to sell Halvorson's food truck. Anyone interested can contact Rohrich at 701-238-7089.
Among those attending Tuesday's remembrance were Roy Julkowski and Kristina Kirick.
The two were among a small group of people who were sitting by a bonfire on that fateful night in June when they heard gunshots and then a faint call for help.
Julkowski said they jumped a fence and ran to where Halvorson was lying on the ground near his food truck.
He said they did their best to comfort Halvorson as they tried to stem the flow of blood from his wounds.
"They applied pressure and called 911. They were amazing," said Holten, who added she was grateful her friend had someone with him at the end.
Others remembering Halvorson Tuesday were Briann Boerner and her mother, Brenda Grandbois, co-owners of the Pico Food Truck.
"He was a force to be reckoned with," Grandbois said, recalling how boisterous Halvorson could be.
Boerner agreed, adding that Halvorson's advocacy helped all of the food truck operators in the area.
"I think everyone in Fargo knew him," she said.
That was clear when Halvorson's funeral was held earlier this year, according to Holten, who said the services were attended by many.
"It was packed. That made me feel good, that there were so many people who loved him and loved his work and respected him," she said.