Last Friday night we held What the Truck?!, Edmonton’s food truck extravaganza, at Beaver Hills House Park downtown on 105 Street and Jasper Avenue. I think it’s safe to say that the event was a big success! The weather mostly cooperated, hundreds of people were downtown on a Friday evening in a park that is usually empty, and seven of our city’s best food trucks sold lots of food. It was a great feeling to see a relatively simple idea come together to result in a memorable evening.
Photo by Devin.
We did the best we could to prepare the food trucks and our volunteers for setup, but it was still a stressful couple of hours. We staggered the arrival times of each truck, but it was still tricky trying to fit them all in the park! We knew the space was small, and we wanted the casual feel that would result, but we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to navigate the poles, trees, and other obstacles in the park. Not to mention the fact that we were on downtown’s busiest street, blocking both cars and pedestrians while we maneuvered the trucks into place! Everyone stayed calm and got the job done, however.
All of the trucks were situated around the circle with their windows facing inward, except for Funky Pickle. That was not intentional – it was simply a byproduct of the fact that we ran out of space to turn their trailer around! It really highlighted for me that most of our food trucks in Edmonton are actually trailers, which need to be towed by an actual truck or other vehicle. By far the easiest vendor to get setup was The Lingnan – the only one that is a self-contained truck.
When the event officially got underway at 4pm, it was sunny and hot. It wasn’t long though before the sky turned dark and cloudy and the rain threatened. But it didn’t rain very hard or for very long. Not that it would have mattered – it was so neat to see absolutely no one bolt from the lines when it did start raining! Instead, a few umbrellas casually appeared.
All of the trucks were popular, but Filistix definitely had the most consistently long line of the evening (due partially to popularity and partially to the fact that they move far fewer units per hour than Funky Pickle does, for example). It was great to read the comments on Twitter after the event. Things like “Filistix was definitely worth the wait” and “Crepes from Fork & Spoon Brigade – Best. Thing. Ever.” It also seemed that long-time fans of Eva Sweet used the event as an opportunity to try a waffle with all the toppings for the first time. That people were feeling adventurous was reinforced by the fact that Carnival Cravings sold far more “OMG! Mini Donuts” than is typical.
During our early planning for the event, we briefly considered having live music at the event. We decided against it, to keep things simple and to ensure the focus was on the food trucks. Instead we asked the Urban Monks DJs to provide some music to help liven up the event. They did a great job, and even created a food-inspired playlist!
It was great to see so many families at the event, and to see people using the picnic tables and even just sitting on the grass in the park. It’s such a wonderful and generally underutilized space! Mayor Mandel, Councillor Iveson, and Councillor Henderson were among the VIPs that attended, and it was cool to see such a mix of familiar and new faces throughout the evening. One of those new faces was Luca Levesque, who stopped by to shoot a great video of the event:
Sharon and I had some key goals we wanted to achieve before we could call the event a success. At the top of that list was that the vendors were successful. Considering nearly every truck ran out of food before the evening was done, I think we can say we achieved that one! Filistix was so tapped out they couldn’t even make it to the City Market the following morning! The feedback we received from all of the food trucks that participated was really positive.
A few thank-yous are definitely in order. Thank you to everyone who came to the event! Thank you to our volunteers for all your help! Thank you to Thomas and Marc for the great music! Thank you to Gabe for the fun logo! Thank you to our sponsors for your support! Thank you to the vendors for taking a chance and sticking with us! And thank you to everyone else who helped us out and made the event a success.
Sharon & I. Photo by Chris.
Are we going to do What The Truck?! again in the future? Based on how well the first edition went, yes, definitely. We hope to do it again sometime in September and have already started some preliminary planning (and have been in touch with some new food trucks too!). Stay tuned to the website for updates. We’ll also be doing some blogging over the summer about the things we learned along the way with regards to parking lots, permits, bylaws, etc.