For those of us who like food that’s high quality, in high quantity and fast (so basically everyone), July 29 and 30 at the Eastern States Fairgrounds will be a weekend to remember. That’s because it’s the site of the New England Food Truck Festival, which included more than 40 vendors serving up some of the best eats from across the region.
According to event organizer Mike Lukas, the New England Food Truck Festival is the largest of its kind on the east coast, drawing trucks from every state in New England, in addition to New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Around 20,000 people are expected to attend this year’s fest over the course of the weekend.
Lukas notes that the organizers want to make the festival more than just food trucks in a parking lot. To this end, the festival will take over the Eastern States Fairgrounds in West Springfield and offer live music, face painting and games such as corn hole and giant chess.
The trucks at the festivals are top notch, as Lukas says that he and his co-organizers received over 200 applications for less than 50 spots. The festival team evaluated trucks based on several criteria, including food quality, fan base, menu items and Yelp reviews.
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“We want to make sure we only choose the premiere trucks,” Lukas says.
Representing Boston will be Curbside Caps, Makin Jamaican, Oath Craft Pizza and Trolley Dog. Look for Cambridge-based Zinneken’s for authentic Belgian waffles and the Roving Lunch Box for a unique menu of sweet and savory hand pies, salads and soups.
The festival is also a unique opportunity to try food trucks from outside the greater Boston area. Lukas says he was especially looking forward to trying barbeque from Hartford-based Bear’s Smokehouse, central Connecticut’s NoRA’s Cupcake and grilled cheese from Worcester’s Say Cheese. There will be trucks selling nearly every kind of food this weekend, from loaded baked potatoes and poutine to Korean rice-bun burgers and empanadas.
Lukas says organizers try to feature lesser-known trucks, in addition to those with a more established fan base. He says that the notoriety some food trucks have gotten at the festival, now in its third year, has helped launch their businesses.
“One of the most rewarding things about doing these events is that you see the difference it makes for these vendors,” Lukas says.
For those who can’t get enough portable eats, the New England Food Truck Festival will head to Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort in Uncasville, Conn., September 2-3.
If you go:
July 29-30, Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds, 875 Memorial Ave., West Springfield, $5 for advance purchase online and $7 at the gate, nefoodtruckfest.com