More than two dozen food trucks rolled into Veterans Park in Springfield Saturday for the Eighth Springfield Rotary Gourmet Food Truck Competition. But only one of them rolled out of town with an extra $5,000.
The mobile vendors served a multitude of palate-pleasing plates along the winding park path from lunch through mid-evening, while the sound of live music intertwined with the aroma of gourmet goodness in the air.
In the end, Biscuit Boss from Plain City, Ohio earned the $5,000 grand prize for its signature dish, The Big Dill – a spicy hand-crafted buttermilk fried chicken biscuit topped with pickle slaw and homemade ranch, as determined by a panel of local chef and special guest celebrity judges, and anonymous roving judges during the event.
In just its second year of service, Biscuit Boss is owned and operated by Springfield native Casey Stevens and her husband, Mark Stevens.
“It feels incredible to win, and it validates all the work we put into it,” she said, noting that it took two full days to prepare for the competition, and that all the prize winnings will go right back into refining and growing their business.
“It’s a no-brainer for us to compete here and be with friends and family,” said Casey Stevens, “I love this competition, and would choose it over any other one. It offers so much diversity and the quality of the trucks is phenomenal. The crowd’s great, the scenery is great. Win or lose, I’ll be back every summer.
Fetty’s Street Food from Columbus was named the $2,500 runner-up for its Indonesian style Beef Rendang, and Streetpops from Cincinnati was awarded the $1,500 third place prize for its Strawberry Rose Cream popsicle.
Local and special guest celebrity chef judges determined winning dishes based upon a combination of flavor/taste, presentation/visual appeal and creativity/originality. The panel included:
- Erica Blaire Roby, Champion of Food Networks BBQ BRAWL
- Lisa Freeman, Chef/Owner of Crust & Company, Salato Deli, and Le Torte Dolci Bakery
- Clayton Horrighs, Executive Chef of Speakeasy Ramen
- Doug McGregor, Owner of Seasons Kitchen
- Elizabeth Wiley, Chef/Owner of Meadowlark Restaurant and Wheat Penny Oven & Bar
Nearly 650 attendees used the Springfield Food Truck mobile app to vote for their favorite truck throughout the event, with Fat Racks Smoking Co. from South Vienna, Ohio taking home the coveted “People’s Choice” $1,000 prize for the third time. The truck won by just 12 votes over its closest competitor.
“Winning the award voted on by the people means more to me than awards by judges,” said Ryan Krugh, who owns and operates Fat Racks alongside Brandon Krugh. “Fat Racks Nation keeps coming out and showing their love. They tell us they love our food and they love to see us here.”
In addition to the variety of food, this year’s event featured live music from local bands, including Stringus Khan, Terrapin Moon, Braeden Carey and Factory Line. Attendees, both new and returning, continue to praise the Springfield Rotary Club for hosting a top-notch event enjoyed by residents across the region.
“I enjoy looking around and seeing which truck stands out and then getting food from there,” said Bryan Brannon of Springfield, Ohio.
“The food is really good. I like all the cultures represented,” added Keith Strother, also of Springfield.
While food truck vendors kept their sales revenue from the day, all money raised from concession sales, corporate sponsorships and donations benefit the many charitable causes of the Springfield Rotary Club. Eddie Bell, Rotary member and Food Truck Competition marketing committee chair, estimated more than $200,000 has been raised by the competition throughout the years benefitting all of Springfield Rotary’s causes, including supporting people with disabilities and scholarships.
“We’re happy to continue to host this event for our community, which featured probably some of the most diverse food options, and the strongest sponsor support in all the years we’ve been hosting the competition,” Bell said. “It’s amazing to see people come together to enjoy the event and support local charities and organizations. We look forward to our ninth competition next summer.”