December 4th, 2013
While I did recap the first three What the Truck?! events that took place this year (Ginger Beef Throwdown, Old Strathcona and The Quarters), I fell off the wagon this summer and failed to keep up with the rest.
Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
Louise McKinney is a beautiful location to be sure, one that provides a gorgeous vantage point and approach to the river valley. However, we knew that the gradient and the few access points might act as barriers for some, but we were hoping that the trucks would be enough of a draw on August 24, 2013.
We had to change our original site map on the fly due to a concurrent event taking place in the adjacent park, which worked for the most part, but wasn’t perfect. Due to the same event, on-site parking was even more scarce. And so, in order to prevent drivers from looping through the vending area, Mack and I ended up having to second our family members to act as parking attendants and control vehicle access. While a majority of people were understanding (and took advantage of our recommendation to park along Jasper Avenue), it really was disheartening to see the number of drivers who didn’t hesitate to spew vitriol when told there was no on-site parking available. Mobility challenges and families with young children aside, I couldn’t fathom why some didn’t want to take advantage of an absolutely gorgeous day and spend more time outdoors.
That aside, for those that did take in the event, we heard pretty positive feedback. The relatively smaller crowd meant shorter lines, and everyone seemed to appreciate the location’s proximity to our river valley.
Beautiful vantage point
It was great to see people sprawled out on the grass, picnicking with their buffet spreads, or utilizing concrete parking curbs as benches.
I was able to try Yellow Bird’s gyu-don beef rice bowl. The one dish filled me up for the rest of the evening, a tasty combination of beef, egg and veggies.
Gyu-don from Yellow Bird
A big thanks to the Shaw Conference Centre, who allowed us to set up in their parking lot, and to the Downtown Edmonton Community League for sponsoring a number of our events this year (including this one).
Our final What the Truck?! in Churchill Square on September 20, 2013 was our biggest event ever, and it was not only clear that the Square was bursting at the seams with vendors, but also that food trucks have been thoroughly embraced by Edmontonians.
Churchill Square (photo by Dave Feltham)
We were really fortunate this season with good weather, and this was exemplified that Friday. It was a fitting finale for summer, and revelers came out in droves.
The crowds! (photo by Dave Feltham)
Some of the lines were long and rather unwieldy, but I’m happy to say that it looked like most people were enjoying themselves, catching up with old friends or meeting new ones.
And while we welcomed a few new trucks to our WTT family that day, we didn’t know that we were saying goodbye to one. It was the last service for The Lingnan Express – Miles sold the truck to another proprietor, who will be rebranding the truck to be launched in 2014.
We’re always indebted to DJ Thomas Scott and his friends, who bring just the right party atmosphere to our events. You rock!
DJ Thomas Scott
And what can we say to thank our hard working volunteers, who perform thankless jobs like garbage collection? We couldn’t do it without you.
Thanks to everyone who came out that night and helped us celebrate a great year.
What the Truck?! Gives Back
We capped our season with a special service at the Bissell Centre. Our desire was to try and replicate the spirit of our other pop-up events, but of course, this one had one major twist: the food was free.
Six trucks served over 900 meals to underprivileged individuals that day. We can’t tell you how rewarding it was to see people enjoying themselves.
Bully at work
We always knew we were lucky to have such a great food truck community in Edmonton, but the participating vendors that day took that statement to another level. Thanks to The Act Out & About, Bully, Lemon Grass Grill, Little Village, The Local Omnivore, and Sailin’ On for your generous contributions.
It was also a wonderful experience working with the staff from the Bissell Centre. The agency has had a rough month, experiencing a fire in their Thrift Shoppe, but the staff were more than accommodating to help us put on this event on their day off! Thanks to the staff and volunteers for their hard work.
Looking to 2014
You can be sure What the Truck?! will be back next year (we’ve already started brainstorming locations!), but perhaps the most exciting thing for us is an expanded team! We know this event could be so much more, but Mack and I aren’t able to grow it on our own. So we’ve invited a few more people to the table who will lend new ideas, perspectives and energy to the events. Welcome Caleng, Dave and Melina – I’m looking forward to working with you in 2014.
Team What the Truck?!
See you next year!