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Chicago Food Truck Fest Was 'a Fiasco,' Patrons Say

By Casey Cora | June 10, 2014 4:56am
 Patrons wait in line at the Chicago Food Truck Fest.
Patrons wait in line at the Chicago Food Truck Fest.
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DNAinfo/Angela Myers

ARMOUR SQUARE — Paying $25 to stand in line for an hour wasn't part of the plan.

That's the complaint from many patrons at the inaugural Chicago Food Truck Fest, which took place Saturday in the parking lot outside U.S. Cellular Field.

The event drew about 15 food trucks from around the city, all accompanied by the backdrop of live music, beer vendors and even a magician to delight the waiting crowds.

But guests say the vendors were quickly overwhelmed and the lines of hungry patrons — who paid $10 admission and $15 to park — began stretching back into the dozens. On EveryBlock, guests called it a "fiasco" and some decided to leave before chowing down.

Casey Cora explains why some attendees were so upset:

"By the time we got up to the truck, there was nothing left to choose from and we took the shortest line possible. The lines were crazy long and people took the chairs from the tables that you were supposed to be able to sit and eat at, to sit in line," one woman said.

Contacted by DNAinfo Chicago, event organizer Alex Blackshire did not address the setbacks but said in an email he was proud to have assembled "the most licensed food trucks at one place in Chicago history."

"We are thankful to play a part in helping the [food truck] industry," he wrote.

Blackshire was also the event coordinator for the Third Rail Music Festival, an experimental music festival that was slammed online for low attendance and for its promotional materials, which seemed to be a direct rip-off of another festival's posters.

Those who endured long waits at Saturday's event eventually got their pick from food trucks including Haute Sausage, Bombay Wraps, Jerk 312 Chicken, The Fat Shallot, Tamale Spaceship and more.

One dollar from each ticket was donated to Feed the Children, a national group that provides food and assistance to families in need, organizers said.

Some say the large crowds swarmed the festival because there's been nothing else like it on the South Side.

That's what brought Michelle Pienta out on Saturday. She said arrived with a group of friends but they "barely ate."

"What had the potential to be a great event, and finally something different for the neighborhood, was a mess," she said.

Still, some at the foodie fest said they'd give the event another shot — if organizers could limit ticket sales and round up more trucks. On the event's Facebook page, festival organizers said they're listening.

"Next year we will build on our strengths and areas of opportunity to have an even better event. So for your patience and time we say thank you. Hope to see you all next year!"