Rotary Food Truck Competition on Saturday to include nearly 30 vendors

Saturday’s lunch and possibly dinner are already planned out: The only challenge is making a choice, or in this case — choices.

The eighth annual Springfield Gourmet Food Truck Competition will gather around 27 food vendors that will have a wide range of options from American comfort foods including burgers and pizza to international dishes, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Park, 250 Cliff Park Rd. Admission is free.

One of summer’s most anticipated events for nearly a decade, the competition returns back to its mid-August roots after skipping 2020 and coming back last year in September, later than normal due to restrictions on gatherings caused by the pandemic. Rotarian Eddie Bell, event marketing chair, said this should be like it was before.

“We’ve had some bumps over the last couple of years but it’s going to be a good weekend,” he said. “It will be a good combination of past and new trucks.”

Bell estimates about half the vendors are returning and a fresh group represent the other half, some local. Among noteworthy newcomers are Chido’s Tacos, Cray Cray Cajun, Biscuit Boss, Dine-in Hawaiian, Just Jerks Caribbean foods, MamaBear’s Mac macaroni and cheese, and SugarSnap! with dessert treats.

Bell said he one individual called this the strongest, most diverse lineup of vendors yet.

Beverages including soft drinks, Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company products and other adult beverages will be for sale separately.

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He added it’s an interesting time in the food truck industry as a few of the competition’s past prize winners have either given up their trucks or traded them for brick-and-mortar versions of their brands. The competition awards a $5,000 prize to first-place, $2,500 for second and $1,500 for third, chosen by a panel of judges.

The competition has a celebrity judge for the first time: Erica Blaire Roby of Dayton, who won Food Network’s “BBQ Brawl” in 2021, who will join judges from other area restaurants.

The public will also have its say with a people’s choice award with a $1,000 prize. Visitors can vote for their favorites with the Springfield Food Truck mobile ap. The awards will be presented around 4:30 p.m. that day according to Bell.

Live entertainment will also return including Stringus Khan at noon, Terrapin Moon at 2 p.m., Braeden Carey at 4 and The Factory Line at 6.

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, tents or blankets to enjoy food and the entertainment along with the summer weather.

The Springfield Museum of Art will also offer free admission again during the event. Attendees are welcome to browse the galleries and enjoy the air conditioning, and will provide places to sit and eat.

Bell shared this year has also been the strongest year yet for sponsorships. All proceeds raised go toward various Rotary causes including events such as the annual Dream Soccer program for children with disabilities, which is going on this week.

There will be other chances to donate financially including as little as a dollar, which Bell said can still go a long way. The first seven competitions have raised more than $200,000.

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Plenty of parking will be available near the park. For more information on parking, food trucks bios or anything else about the event, Bell encourages downloading the Springfield Food Truck mobile ap.

Rotary scheduled the event to end a bit earlier than years past so people can also attend the first Springfield Jazz and Blues Festival at National Road Commons Park and Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company that evening as well.

“You can come for lunch and dinner and join a bunch of people who just want to have fun,” said Bell.

HOW TO GO

What: Springfield Rotary Gourmet Food Truck Competition

Where: Veterans Park, 250 Cliff Park Rd., Springfield

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. SaturdayAdmission: free; food and beverages will be for sale

More info: www.springfieldfoodtruck.com

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