Thousands Turn Out for Mobile Cuisine in Support of Rotary Charities
The food truck craze that has swept the nation returned to Veterans Park in Springfield on Saturday, as 40 food trucks and more than 15,000 attendees rallied at the second annual Springfield Rotary Gourmet Food Truck Competition.
Forty food trucks from across the Midwest, 20 of which competed at last year’s event, along with 20 first-time competitors, sold food from all over the world, from authentic Indian, Mexican and Greek to traditional American cuisines, and everything in between.
A number of changes were implemented at this year’s competition based on vendor and attendee feedback from last year’s event, including additional refrigerated storage for vendors, having all of the food trucks parked along one side of the road instead of both sides to help foot traffic and lines move more efficiently, and a mobile application that helped attendees navigate the event.
The changes resulted in a noticeable improvement over last year’s already successful competition, said Eddie Bell, Rotary member and Food Truck Competition marketing committee chair.
“Attendees told us that everything ran much smoother this year, from communication to the setup of the trucks to the flow of foot traffic,” he said. “We are extremely pleased with the way the community has responded and rallied around this event.”
Abbey Deppen, of St. Paris, attended the event with her mom, Kate Parker, also of St. Paris, and said the setup was much better this year compared to last year.
“We wouldn’t have come back this year if it had been the same setup as last year’s competition,” said Deppen. “This year, we were able to walk right in and have already tried food from four different food trucks, without having to wait in line hardly at all. It’s been great.”
Deppen also appreciated the competition’s online and digital presence.
“Having the food trucks’ menus available online and on the mobile app has also been great,” she said. “We were looking at them last night [Friday] to see which food trucks we wanted to try today.”
Mojo Tago, from Powell, Ohio, won the $10,000 grand prize for having the Best Food Truck Cuisine, with its Korean Short Rib BBQ taco, as voted on by a panel of celebrity judges. The runner-up, Bone’s Burgers, of Loveland, Ohio, was awarded $2,000 for its signature dish, the Farm Burger.
“This is such a great event, and the people here really care,” said Brian Reed, owner and manager of grand prize winner Mojo Tago. “There are so many good chefs competing here. I’m just honored.”
A group of 12 anonymous judges selected the winners for Best Truck Design, Best Customer Service and Best Menu from those not winning first or second prize, with each receiving $1,000. These winners include:
Best Truck Design – Marty’s Waffles, of Alexandria, Kentucky
Best Customer Service – Texas Joe Tex Mex, of Ft. Thomas, Kentucky
Best Menu – Hunger Paynes, of Dayton, Ohio
Attendees were serenaded with live entertainment throughout the day by local bands and solo musicians, including Matt Rees, Tony Powell, Mad River Railroad, Hugely Brothers and Omega Point. The competition wound down to the sounds of Reggae tunes from the Ark Band, of Columbus.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the Springfield Rotary Club’s charitable causes, including Services to People with Disabilities, Polio Plus and the International Project in Lesotho, Africa.
“We’re already looking forward to planning and making even more improvements to next year’s competition,” Bell said.
The Springfield Rotary Club was founded in 1914 and is comprised of community business and professional leaders who volunteer their time and resources to help others in the Clark County area and throughout the world. This will be the club’s second annual Gourmet Food Truck Competition, with proceeds benefiting its various charitable causes. For more information about the event, visit springfieldfoodtruck.com.