Thirty-two food trucks came. Thousands ate. Five bands played. Countless cups of craft brews were served. And, one truck was crowned champion.
The 5th annual Springfield Rotary Gourmet Food Truck Competition took Veterans Park by storm Aug. 18. Urban Vistro, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was selected the $10,000 grand prize winner by a group of local celebrity judges, which included Doug McGregor (Seasons Bistro and Grille), Micah Berner (Cecil and Lime), John Da Rosa (Seasons Bistro and Grille), Tina Pavlatos (Visual Anatomy) and Lisa Freeman (Le Torte Dolci), for their Borocado Martini dish. The judges tasted all the food trucks’ signature dishes and scored each dish based on numerous categories.
When asked about his first time competing in the event, Urban Vistro owner Vitor Abreu had one word to describe the experience: “Incredible.”
“We started our truck three years ago and Marty [of Marty’s Waffles] brought this event to our attention, but we kept missing the entry deadline,”Abreu said. “We wanted to be a part of it because it’s a true food truck competition, so we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s bring our A game.’”
“It’s not just a rally. It’s trucks bringing their best and unique items,” he said.
Mojo Tago, of Columbus, Ohio, with their Deconstructed Pork Belly Taco and Marty’s Waffles, of Alexandria, Kentucky, with their Chicken and Waffle BLT were awarded the $5,000 runner-up prize and $2,000 third place prize respectively, and Fat Racks Smoking Co. took home the second-ever $1,000 People’s Choice Award, which was voted on by attendees through the event’s mobile app.
“It’s our first time competing here, but I’ve been a spectator ever year,” said Ryan Krugh, owner of Fat Racks Smoking Co. “The people are the best part of the event. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
With 13 new food trucks and 19 returning competitors, attendees savored the variety of cuisine once again in a landmark year for the event.
“Not many events last five years these days, so we were really excited to celebrate that milestone in particular at this year’s competition,” said Eddie Bell, Rotary member and Food Truck Competition marketing committee chair. “It’s just a great event all-around – great food, great drinks and great entertainment – and I think that’s why people keep coming back year after year.”
Brett and Kari Griffith, of Springfield, have attended the event all five years because of the unique variety of food year after year and the vibrant atmosphere it brings to the downtown area.
“It’s a great community event because you see lots of people you know from the area and meet others that have traveled from Dayton or Columbus to attend,” she said. “Not to mention, the food selection is superb. We’ve never had anything that we didn’t love.”
In addition to the array of food trucks, five local bands and performers headlined the competition. Andy Fox, Todd the Foxx, Tru Luv Band, Omega Point and Red Idle Rejects serenaded attendees as they chowed down on their street foods of choice.
The money raised from the sales of drinks and T-shirts, in addition to corporate sponsorships, benefit the many charitable causes of the Springfield Rotary Club, such as helping individuals with disabilities, and supporting international projects, such as Polio Plus and various projects in Lesotho, Africa.
“Since the inaugural event in 2014, we’ve raised over $100,000 for our various charities, which has increased the number of people our club can serve by 70 percent,” said Bell. “Most attendees don’t realize what a tremendous impact this event has on the local community and beyond.”
Planning for the 2019 Springfield Rotary Gourmet Food Truck Competition is already underway.