Sampling from 27 food trucks in an afternoon takes planning and dedication. Kevin Hughes from Cambridge thought he was up for the challenge, but as he munches on hand-cut rosemary truffle fries from Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese, he’s starting to lose faith. “I thought it would be much smaller portions,” he says. “That’s a whole lunch.”
This is the first of 10 Food Truck Festivals of New England between now and late October, in venues from Salem, N.H., to Newport, R.I. Founder Anne-
Marie Aigner tested the concept of food trucks “as the
destination” at three festivals last year. “People love it,” she says. “They love it more than I expected them to love it.”
To that end, more than 4,500 people flooded the lawn at the University of Massachusetts Boston Campus Center on Sunday to enjoy the bright sunshine and sample beef barbacoa and pickled slaw tacos from Staff Meal, wasabi lobster on coleslaw from Bite Into Maine, sliders from Rocket Fine Street Food truck, and ice cream pizza from Emack & Bolio’s. The trucks form a wide circle and lines of hungry ticket holders ($30 in advance, $35 at the door) snake inward like spokes on a wagon wheel. Julia Rocco from Brookline picks one and hopes for the best.
“I’m thinking it’s the Rocket truck over there,” Rocco says, who decides that the line she’s standing in will “arrive at some truck with food in it, so that’s good enough for me.” Despite her optimism, Rocco isn’t sure she’ll come back to another festival. “The crowds are a little bit overwhelming,” she says. “It might be a one-time thing.”
Sisters Novella and Lexus Brady were first in line for general admission at noon and have sampled clams and chowder, jerk chicken, seafood fritters, Korean barbecue, and lemonade. They are snacking on mini vanilla cupcakes while waiting in line for lobster bisque. “I have room for more,” Lexus says.
Early in the week, Aigner warned ticket holders that the trucks carry limited amounts, saying, “come hungry, but come early.” Still, with 4,500 tickets sold and some trucks bringing just 1,000 servings, Aigner’s assertion that a ticket “gets a portion from every truck” is clearly wishful thinking. Some of the most popular vendors have to close their doors less than halfway into general admission.
“I didn’t expect there to be a crowd like this,” says Geo Lambert, manager of Big Moe’s M&M Ribs. He promises to bring more food next time, but he shakes his head as he tries to calculate how much will be needed. “Hopefully we’re not going to run out.”
Next door, Maureen Fitzgerald is handing out the last of her wares from the back of Cupcake Mojo’s pink and blue Scion XB. “I should have brought more, but this is the first time I’ve actually done something like this,” she says. Fitzgerald plans to bring twice as many cupcakes to her next event. “I bet I could bring 2,000,” she says.
With Sunday’s attendance, that would mean more than half the people would go without.