The first edition of the Columbus Food Truck and Cart Festival took place last night, and unanticipated levels of attendees flooded into Downtown to partake in the mobile food madness. Event organizers are estimating that approximately 12,000 people in were in attendance between 4pm and 10pm yesterday, which overwhelmed the two dozen vendors and caused some of them to run out of food early.
“I love the idea of this festival, it just needs some work on the execution,” reported attendee Jessica Thimdit via Facebook. “The long lines made it so that it was difficult to try more than one or two places to eat.”
Some attendees expressed dissatisfaction with waiting in lines for up to two hours, while others managed to arrive early enough to avoid long lines, or were lucky enough to get into shorter lines at the right opportunities.
“I got there at 5pm and was able to try several different carts without too much wait time,” said attendee Angie Marion Reed via Facebook. “It was a bit crowded and some of the lines were really long… I just went to places with shorter lines. ”
Other complaints were primarily logistical — unorganized line configurations, tight quarters within the festival area, and confusing systems for purchasing nonalcoholic drinks at stations separate from the food vendors.
“Too few trucks, too many shut down early, and too long of lines,” reported attendee Jed Dearing via Twitter. “We left for the friendly confines of Little Palace.”
Many other attendees reported the same backup plan, fleeing the festival for other options in nearby bars and restaurants including Dirty Franks, Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, The Plantain Cafe and others. The brand new MoJoe Lounge located immediately across the street from the event had a very visibly large spillover crowd both indoors and on their patio.
“We did see a spike in sales at all of our locations as folks streamed in for cocktails and snacks following their visit to the Commons,” said Elizabeth Lessner, CEO of the Betty’s Family of Restaurants. “It was a great boost to our sleepy downtown nightlife.”
Some attendees were comparing and contrasting the Food Truck Festivals with other popular events such as Red White & Boom, Gallery Hop and Independents’ Day.
“There was so much demand this could probably become a new downtown ‘Gallery Hop’ style monthly event during the non winter months,” said attendee Mack Hartwell via Facebook. “I stopped by at 6pm and again at 8pm and the lines were still fifty people deep.”
Event planners were already anticipating future editions of this type of event in some sort of reoccurring format. If there’s one thing that was made apparent last night, it’s that large numbers of locals are excited about going Downtown for food, drinks and parties.
“We would like to thank all those who came and supported our inaugural event,” said event organizer Mike Gallicchio. “We know the beer and food lined were too long, we will fix this!”
“We underestimated the popularity of the food truck and cart scene and we underestimated our ability to bring that many people to an event and we were not prepared,” he added. “We are sorry for any inconveniences we may have caused and will work hard and make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again next time.”
Despite the crowds, many were excited to take part in the energy that the event brought to Columbus Commons.
“I was thrilled to see this many people Downtown,” said attendee Annie Vignolo Vian via Facebook. “Downtown looked alive! It’s a bummer we didn’t get to try any of the food trucks, but we still had a nice night Downtown and the weather was stellar.”