Story and photo by Kacie Frederick
When Connie Bally created the Fort Worth Foodies Facebook group, she never imagined it would amass over 100,000 followers, let alone lead her to win a $40,000 grant from Meta’s Community Accelerator Program.
“It’s really amazing,” Bally said regarding her online community. “I almost feel like Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I open up one door, click one button, start the Facebook group, and all sorts of magic is happening.”
Bally fell even more so down the rabbit hole in October, when she discovered that she was selected as a participant in Meta’s program. Globally, over 4,800 individuals applied, with fewer than 150 accepted. Out of those, 33 are based in North America. Bally and Fort Worth Foodies were in that select group this year.
Meta’s program, which launched in 2020, provides Bally with coaching development, networking opportunities, and the funds to enhance her online presence and facilitate growth. She applied on a whim, thinking that she could always reapply next year once she learned more about the process.
“When I received an email that I had been accepted, I was absolutely numb,” Bally said. “I was driving, so I pulled over into a Kroger parking lot and I went in and bought myself these long stem sunflowers. And I just walked around holding them like I had just won a pageant. I was just so amazed.”
When Bally launched Fort Worth Foodies in 2017, she had recently retired and relocated to Texas after 15 years in Colorado. Bally turned to Facebook as a way to meet friends and have someone to go to dinner with, but she found much more than that– she found a need, not only for herself but for others in the area to have a space to connect over something everyone loves: food.
“It was before anyone really knew the power of Facebook,” Bally said. “I remember wondering to myself whether I could cobble this little group together myself and build a foodies community. There were no paths or precedents. But I persevered, and it’s come together in a way that I could never imagine.”
Fort Worth Foodies is now a growing online channel for everything tasty and trendy in the North Texas area. The group likes to be thought of as a restaurant review site where foodies salute the hard working restaurants and their staff for bringing their cuisine to Texas. Bally describes it as a way to have fun and engage even more with the food on your plate.
Fort Worth Foodies brings together the community in more ways than one. Whether it is scouting new restaurants, thanking hard working chefs, or getting friends and family together–the Facebook Group is a way for the community to connect across the metroplex. The group has also expanded and now has 2 additional communities in order to fit additional needs: Fort Worth Foodies Home Chef, and more recently Fort Worth Foodies Plant Based, and Vegan.
Bally is already using the grant to help purchase a greatly needed fence for east Fort Worth’s Bridgewood Church of Christ’s beloved garden. In addition to putting the funds to growing her business, Bally plans to launch a city-wide event early next year to celebrate not only local chefs, entrepreneurs, and restaurants, but also other services within the culinary world that include music, arts, design, woodworkers, and more.
Bally is grateful to be able to connect individuals both virtually and in-person, and for Meta in selecting her for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Fort Worth Foodies is the way Bally gives back to her community. It was a very easy decision for her to start the Fort Worth Foodies Facebook group, but she never imagined it would blossom into what it is today. For more information or to join the Facebook group, please visit: Fort Worth Foodies.