Stuff & Nonsense: Around Connecticut: Connecticut Food Truck Festival

20 July 2014

Around Connecticut: Connecticut Food Truck Festival

The first Connecticut Food Truck Festival was held at the North Haven Fairgrounds this weekend and it was ... an experience. We ate some tasty things and really enjoyed the idea of the festival. Fifty-ish food trucks all in one place with the money raised meant to feed the hungry! How could we not love that?

Delicious Chicago-style "hot white" (full pork dog imported from Rochester, NY)
without relish at Zawack Shack. Hands down, the best thing we ate.

We arrived just before noon on Saturday (the gates opened at 11) and the parking area was already quite full. There was one ticket station open at the entrance and the line to reach it looped all the way back to the rear of the fairgrounds. There were rumors tickets might soon be available at a side gate, but who wanted to risk forming a line to nowhere? Anyway, standing in a long line for good grub is part of any food festival experience (presuming you are an "average person" and not, say, my physically disabled mother for whom this festival would have been impossible) and should not be a big deal ... except when that line overlaps with the line of traffic driving through the fairground to get to the parking area! From a public safety point of view, it was a terrible idea. Maybe, if there had been more staff directing cars and people, it would have seemed safer?

Also, just getting into the fairgrounds was an adventure. We came off the highway, so needed to take a left turn into the fairgrounds. Against traffic. With no stop light or police officer directing traffic, it was a dicey situation as the two lanes of oncoming traffic had no reason to ever slow or stop. Obviously, some of the cars in the oncoming lanes were also trying to get into the fairgrounds and it was all just a clusterfuck.

Wild boar burger from Aurora's Gypsy Cafe topped with house-made pesto (kale, spinach,
sage, cranberry, walnut, garlic, herbs), Havarti, roasted peppers and onions, lettuce and tomato.
Very lean, but well-seasoned, and juicy from all the toppings.

And that was before noon. It was much worse when we left -- no-one directing exiting traffic, cars parked on the shoulders of roads, traffic backed up everywhere -- and people were still trying to get in! Madness. On the highway, we could see traffic backed up well past the exit ramp and I felt really bad for the people stuck in those vehicles. Also a bit smug, because we were leaving and our bellies were full of good grub.

ANYWAY. We got through the line, we paid for our tickets ($5 per person! A steal!), we ate food, and it was good. Some of the lines were just insane, so there were trucks we simply never got to, and that made me a little sad as I'd had my heart set on a baked potato. But it also thrilled me a little, because I've always thought America needs a spudulike and, if people are willing to stand in line for forty-minutes in July for a baked potato, well, that only proves my point.

Pulled pork on a soft roll with cheezy mac at Big Country's BBQ. The pork was very tender and juicy
without being saucy, but it needed heat. The mac was just meh.
We added hot sauce but couldn't taste it. Very sad.

What did we eat? Well, less than you'd think. The agreement was to only order things we'd both eat so we could share and thereby, theoretically, eat a greater variety of food. Unfortunately, the drink tent was back by the entrance and running back and forth for bottles of water was just annoying -- one person stands in line while another person gets water certainly works, but wasn't how I'd planned on spending the day.

So we were thirsty quite a lot of the time -- even with peach lemonade from Aurora's Gypsy Cafe and mango lemonade from Amor Food Truck -- and that thirst made us less hungry. After a few hours, it was just "Fuck this, I need an ice pop and chair" (we'd completely misunderstood what "we have rented seating for 400 at a time" meant) and we ended up at Lyman Orchards. Saw some waterfowl, stocked up on fruit and cold drinks, then went home to nap and dream about all the food we hadn't tried.

So, would we go back in 2015? Yes, because the food was tasty and the idea is a good one. But I'd arrive for 10:30, bring our collapsible chairs, and smuggle in a bunch of water bottles.

Tasty donuts from Orangeside are a perfectly reasonable excuse to visit New Haven soon.

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