Fourth Annual Spring Garden Food Truck Festival

Ashley Hallenbeck/ The Carolinian

Ashley Hallenbeck/ The Carolinian

Sophia Lucente
   Staff Writter

Next Sunday, Aug. 30, mobile food vendors from across North Carolina will convene at the corner of Spring Garden and Chapman Streets for Greensboro’s fourth annual Food Truck Festival. This year’s event will feature Backpack Beginnings as its main nonprofit organization in addition to food and drink spanning a wide range of palates and prices.

Founded and directed by local mother Parker White, the group operates a variety of backpack and pantry programs for children without adequate food, clothing and comfort items in Guilford, Forsyth and Alamance Counties. Opportunities to donate one’s time and financial support are explained on their website, as well as instructions on how to host one’s own food drive in their name. Joining them at the festival will be UNCG organization the Food Recovery Network, whose members will be accepting donations and earning proceeds from beer sales.

Festival administrator Shari Kumiega says she was inspired to begin this sort of event by the flourishing food truck industries she saw in Asheville and Durham, the latter of which has been holding Food Truck “Rodeos” at their Central Park since 2009.

“I used to go into Sessions with a friend of mine and he introduced me to Greg Munning, the owner of [Greensboro restaurant and truck] El Azteca,” Kumiega told The Carolinian.

“I started thinking about where we could have a food truck rodeo and Greg said, ‘Why not here? You have a wine lounge, a craft beer bar and a music venue.’ So I asked Allen [Tyndall] from Sessions, and Alison [Breen] and Joey from the Tasting Room and Doc Beck from The Blind Tiger,” Kumiega said.

According to Kumiega, food trucks are frequently operated by professional chefs planning on opening their own restaurants someday. Bandito Burrito’s owner, Nick Benshoff, is among this population; he started as an employee at Josephine’s Kitchen and hopes to run a brick and mortar eatery in the future.

Other trucks have been established out of love for the industry’s natural spontaneity, like Pittsboro’s Parlez-Vous Crêpe. Owner Jody Argote is a former French professor who wanted to begin a new career that could incorporate her passions for French culture and for the interactive nature akin to teaching. Both she and Benshoff will be present at this year’s festival.

In Guilford County, all food truck vendors are required to purchase a Business Permit in addition to a Mobile Food Vendor Permit — costing $100 and $50, respectively — and are expected to follow a number of regulations. Several of the business owners contacted by The Carolinian cited Durham as North Carolina’s number-one food truck-friendly city, and Chapel Hill and Raleigh as its strictest.

Owners also pay for maintenance, food and supplies, transportation and advertising— all of which add up to a considerable burden for an independent business to bear.

“Greensboro’s food truck scene is definitely growing, with the addition of some new trucks, and the longevity of some veteran trucks like us and Bandito Burrito,” said Eric James, owner of Urban Street Grill.

Kumiega echoed this sentiment, and made note of the potential impact of Greensboro’s large population. “We have the trucks, we have the vendors [and] the music,” she said.  “What we need more than anything is the support of the community. It’s a community event; the more the community comes together, the more successful it will be.”

Attendees can expect craft beer, live music at the Tasting Room, and creative menu items galore. Cuisine hailing from Haiti, France, South America, the Caribbean and Thailand will be represented; guests can even sample from a Chinese dumpling truck and from one devoted entirely to pizza.

Street food fundamentalists will be happy as well with options in barbeque, wings, donuts, burgers and Italian ice.

More information can be found at the Spring Garden Food Truck Festival IV Facebook fan page. Those interested in attending are encouraged to click the “going” button to help spread the word.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Reviews, sophia lucente

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