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Gourmet food truck competition set for Springfield

August event will be fundraiser for Rotary.

Fifty food trucks and thousands of foodies will gather this August in downtown Springfield — at least that’s the hope of organizers of the Springfield Rotary Club’s first Gourmet Food Truck Competition.

Unlike many food truck events, the food truck competitors will be paid to show up and compete for a $10,000 grand prize. There will be no admission fee for the Rotary fundraiser, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, on the grounds of the the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

“You can come for lunch, or dinner, or both, and we hope to get a lot of foodies here,” said Stu Secttor, the Springfield Rotary Club’s President-elect and executive director at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. “It’s very unique. This is unprecedented. This is all free and open to the public.”

Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and water also will be available for sale, as will each truck’s signature dish (for competition) and the rest of the trucks’ menus. The fund-raising money for the Rotary Club’s many programs will come from sponsorships, especially from title sponsor Speedway.

Each truck vendor will get a $500 stipend for gas, no matter how far away they are located. Among the first food trucks expected to attend are Mac Genie from Indianapolis, Mojo To Go, Challah and That Food Truck, all of Columbus, Go Cupcake of Dayton and Aahar India of Yellow Springs.

Secttor said about 15 trucks already are registered, with applications open until 50 spots are reserved or until about March 1. Interested food truck vendors can call Secttor at (937) 328-3857 for more information. He said a website will be operating in the next few weeks where applications will be available. Besides the grand prize, smaller prizes also will be awarded.

“That’s great; it’s excitement,” said Chris Schutte, marketing director of Greater Springfield’s Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Food trucks are definitely hot. They are a pretty trending thing right now.”

Secttor said the goal for the first event is 25 to 50 trucks that will be located in the parking lot near the performing arts center. Secttor said if they fill that area, trucks will be added on Fountain Avenue and perhaps into the parking lot on Jefferson Street. The area will be cordoned off to allow alcohol sales where the trucks are located.

The event is being held in conjunction with the Kuss Memorial concert, which will take place after the food truck competition. The free multi-media performance — which requires tickets that will be available in August — will feature Jim Witter, who will perform Piano Men 2, songs from the second half of the careers of Elton John and Billy Joel.

Secttor said there will be some air-conditioned indoor seating in case of inclement weather or extreme heat. He said the goal for the event is at least 7,000 people eating, drinking and enjoying Springfield.

Schutte said it’s hard to estimate the economic impact of a new event, but that the Chamber of Commerce is 100 percent behind it.

“It will be a cool event,” Secttor said. “It will be hip for Springfield, Ohio.”

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