By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
Organizers of the upcoming Ain’t No Joke Food Truck Rally hope the event will attract a crowd, some of which they’re hoping will be from the loyal following of trucks from Wichita.
One of the organizers, Melody Spurney, coordinator of the Newton Convention and Visitors Bureau, said fans of Wichita food trucks might come to Newton for the Saturday, April 1, event, and then they’ll get to experience downtown Newton.
“It was a chance to reach a difference audience (for the trucks),” Spurney said. “This is just a new experience for our community. Trucks tend to have loyal followings.”
The rally will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. just north of Depot Park, which is the park near the train station with the water fountain. There will be live music by Tailspin of Wichita, and there’s no cost to attend, although people will have to pay for their food and drinks. The rally is presented by the Newton Convention and Visitor Center, 701 Café, Visivo and non-profit partner Safehope. In addition, the rally will feature broadcast personality and emcee Sierra Scott.
“We just thought it sounded like a fun thing to do,” Spurney said. “This is an underused park, and we liked the idea of it being so visible downtown.”
Another plus for using the park is it’s wired for electricity.
Folks attending the rally will be able to sample a variety of foods—some they can already get in Newton and others they can’t.
Offerings represent drinks, which include juice, coffee, beer and local wine; main dishes, like barbecue and Asian street food; appetizer/snack foods, such as twists on nachos and tater tots; and dessert from the Salted Creamery.
The food truck lineup includes Crust & Crumb Co., Drink Local, Funky Monkey Munchies, The Kamayan Truck, LeJ’s Barbecue, LoLo’s Crepes, Noble House Hawaiian, Salted Creamery, Songbird Juice Co., Sunflower Espresso and Surley Mermaid. Entree prices will be in the $6 to $12 range, Spurney said.
During the event, Fifth Street will be blocked off where the trucks will be parked, and there will be conrolled access with two entrances guarded by Harvey County sheriff’s officers—one at Fifth and Main and another at Fifth and the parking lot north of there. This is to ensure no one enters or leaves the area with alcohol.
“It’s free access, but it’s controlled access because there will be a truck with craft beer,” Spurney said.
There will be 11 food vendors and eight trucks. For example, Crust & Crumb will be set up there but won’t have a truck.
The parking lot behind 500 Main Place will be open for parking, Spurney said, and the event has a wide variety of vendors by design.
“We tried to get a good variety,” Spurney said.
In order to get the variety, an idea had to be hatched. Spurney and Chris Young with 701 Café in Newton thought the rally would be a cool idea for Newton. So, in October, they attended the food truck rally in Wichita, which is on the last Sundays of months from spring through fall at the WaterWalk. That event has 24 trucks. Spurney and Young went from truck to truck, knocking on doors, and interviewing and talking to food truck people while representing the city of Newton.
“We came back from that completely impressed and inspired and excited,” Young said.
Spurney then checked with the city of Newton on the logistics of using the park space.
And variety of the spice of life, or at least the spice of the food truck rally.
“We wanted to have a good variety because everyone doesn’t like the same thing,” Spurney said.