Crowd eats up Rotary gourmet food truck competition

Thirty-five food trucks with names like “Zombie Dogz” and “Ce’st Cheese” rolled into Springfield’s Veterans Park on Saturday from as far as the East Coast and as near as across town.

They were met by an enthusiastic and hungry crowd eager to try everything from crab cakes to Jamaican jerk chicken during the first Springfield Rotary Gourmet Food Truck Competition.

The event, a fundraiser aimed at supporting a variety of Rotary-supported charities, drew an undetermined number of attendees. It was enough to have Rotary event chairman Bill Brougher smiling.

“We hoped for a good crowd and it was larger than we’d dreamed,” he said. “The Springfield community loves outdoor events. With the popularity of food trucks and live music, we have a winner here.”

Food vendors competed for a $10,000 first prize and $2,000 runner-up prize for their signature dishes and in three best-of categories.

Harvest Mobile Cuisine of Spring Valley, Ohio’s signature Land and Sea BLT had the highest score. Westerville, Ohio-based Mojo Tago claimed runner-up with its signature Three Amigos.

Dayton food trucks made a strong showing with Zombie Dogz winning Top Menu and Hunger Paynes taking Best Customer Service. Marty’s Waffles of Alexandria, Ky., rounded out the winners with Best Truck/Cart Design.

The competition was scored by a panel of 21 roving judges.

The question for attendees was where to start with the vast options.

Greg and Amy Wolfenbarger traveled in from Springboro and didn’t mind waiting an hour and 10 minutes to sample pulled pork and jerk chicken from Jam Pan Mobile Jerk Centre, which had a steady line all day.

“It’s really good, everything here was unique,” said Greg.

Springfielder Christy Knutson satisfied her dietary needs while attending with spouse Erik and 1-year-old son Guy. She had just one small suggestion.

“If anything it would be better being two days instead of one.”

Brougher said the overwhelming response should make the food truck competition Rotary’s main annual fundraiser event.

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