By Traci Bridges | SCNow
FLORENCE, S.C. — Though the weekend is expected to bring cooler weather to the Carolinas, things at the Florence Center’s second Carolina Food Truck Rodeo promise to be smoking hot.
In fact, the inaugural event in the spring was such a sizzling success, Florence Center officials couldn’t wait a full year to bring it back.
“We had tremendous crowds back in May — about 10,000 people attended, which was around 300 percent more than we expected attendance-wise,” said Hubert Bullard, the Florence Center Carolina Food Truck Rodeo manager. “There were so many people, a lot of the food trucks actually sold out of food on Saturday. We were beyond pleasantly surprised with the turnout, and there was immediately such a clamor for another that we decided to do it again this fall.”
The inaugural Carolina Food Truck Rodeo featured approximately 25 trucks. The event Friday and Saturday boasts a list of more than 30, with menus ranging from standard carnival fare such as funnel cakes and hot dogs to the more eclectic like sushi and gourmet cheese.
“The goal is to bring a wide variety of foods from all over, everything from seafood to noodles to Cajun food to pizza and fried okra,” Bullard said. “We want to give Florence a taste of things they might not usually find here but also traditional food-truck-style food. There will be something for everybody, and that’s what’s so great about this event.”
In addition to food, there will be plenty of craft and domestic brews in the beer garden to wash down all of those tasty dishes, plus a kid’s play zone, complete with bouncy houses, face painting and carnival rides. And more adventurous adults will have their own play zone, featuring a mechanical bull ready for battle.
“A lot of people, when they’ve had a few beers, have a real good time on the mechanical bull,” Bullard said, chuckling. “So that ought to be fun for everyone.”
And all that fun will be set against the backdrop of live music throughout both days from local and regional acts, including Beam Country, Sweet Potato Pie, Seth Collins and headliners Painted Man (who will take the stage at 7 p.m. both days).
“We’ve got a great lineup and two days of fun planned,” Bullard said. “So we’re hoping for an even bigger turnout this time around.”
The Florence Center team launched the first food truck rodeo in May in an effort to bring something new and different to the area, especially with the food truck craze beginning to get some traction throughout the region. Though Florence doesn’t quite have a vibrant food truck scene just yet, there are many throughout the state and Southeast already gaining national attention.
Admission to the event is free, and attendees will be on their own to purchase food from the trucks they choose. Many of the trucks accept debit cards, but there will be ATMs on site to accommodate vendors who don’t take cards. Sponsors for the event include Wicked Weed, Budweiser and Pepsi of Florence.
“A lot of this food is food you can’t find locally, so this is really something different for our area,” Bullard said. “We’re hoping everyone will come out and try some good food, listen to some great music and just have a good time.”