SURREY â€” Last summerâ€™s inaugural Surrey Food Cart Festival left a bad taste in the mouths of some. There were delays in getting the weekly event off the ground and, once it all finally got going last August, a revised site in a dusty corner of Holland Park didnâ€™t exactly make crowds flock to the festival.
This is 2015, however, and the current organizers of the event have re-imagined it as a single-day festival devoted to food-cart offerings from around the region.
On Saturday (July 25), 20 members of the Fraser Valley Food Truck Association will park at Surreyâ€™s city hall plaza for the six-hour event, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 2014 festival was supposed to be held in the plaza on 104th Avenue but its construction wasnâ€™t yet complete, forcing the move to Holland Park under the management of Vancouver-based Arrival Agency, operators of that cityâ€™s popular Food Cart Fest.
The festival in Surrey is now organized by Laine Ogilvie, Maple Ridge-based president of the host association and operator of Memory Laine Events.
â€œThis will be the first food cart festival at the (Surrey city hall) plaza,â€ Ogilvie told the Now.
â€œItâ€™s a very nice (venue) â€“ brand spanking new and beautiful,â€ she continued, â€œand itâ€™s good because they have the road that kind of goes around it. If they didnâ€™t have that, it wouldnâ€™t be a good site for this (festival) because of the weight restrictions, due to the parkade underneath the plaza. So weâ€™ll have all the trucks parked on that roadway and then the band (The VooDoo Chill), the beer garden and all the seating in the plaza itself.â€
Cloverdaleâ€™s Rick Picard has made a business of parking his Taters truck â€“ a tastefully renovated motorhome â€“ at similar festivals and community events around Metro Vancouver.
For the past year, heâ€™s been into selling people baked potatoes â€“ the kind covered in lobster, crab and cod (a dish dubbed â€œthe Sea Ya Later Taterâ€) and chicken with rice, peppers and spices (the â€œMy Thai Taterâ€), among other ingredients.
To get his enterprise cooking, Picard imported four King Edward ovens from Britain.
â€œItâ€™s this little wood-burning oven thing, and I can cook 80 potatoes an hour,â€ Picard boasted. â€œAnd I donâ€™t really have any throw-away, because I take my unused potatoes, cool them, quarter them, salt and pepper them, add a little oil, stick them back in the smaller oven for about 15 minutes and youâ€™ve got the best potato wedges youâ€™ve ever eaten.â€
Picard, who remains in the home-moving business, has driven his Taters truck to several events in Surrey since last August, including the cityâ€™s tree-lighting festival in December, the recent FVDED in the Park concert at Holland Park and also Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair.
Some events are more profitable to him than others, revealed Picard, whose wife and niece are front-line operators of Taters.
â€œWe do big ones and little ones, and some better than others,â€ he noted. â€œThis year we did the Cloverdale Rodeo and youâ€™d think itâ€™d be a good event but it turned out to be a bit of a dogâ€™s lunch because thereâ€™s just so many other cheaper food options available to people. You know, if you can get a four-dollar hamburger, why pay $10 for a lobster and crab baked potato?
â€œAnd then there are catering jobs for businesses that are (profitable),â€ he continued. â€œWeâ€™ll go there for two and half an hour and make $800, everybody loves it and is happy. We love those kind of events, and we do street food festivals, like the one coming up in Surrey, where thereâ€™s 15 or 20 trucks, five or six thousand people there and everyone has a great day.â€
Other food trucks at this Saturdayâ€™s festival include Dougie Dog, Old Country Pierogi, TNT Wraps, Tasty Torpedo, Uncle Kebab, Poombaâ€™s Smokehouse, the Aussie Pie Guy, Mollies Minis and more.
Festival admission is $2, or free for Vancity members and kids 13 and under.
â€œFingers crossed, weâ€™ll have a good turnout,â€ Ogilvie said. â€œWeâ€™ve had good response on our Facebook events page, with about 4,000 people attending.â€¦ People seem to like a festival like this, where they can spend the whole day with their family, if they choose, and have both lunch and dinner, and also try a bunch of different food. With our events, we make sure the trucks offer some smaller portions â€“ at least one item on their menu for less than $6, so people can try (food) from multiple trucks.â€
The plaza is located at 13450 104th Ave., Surrey. For more festival details, visit Fraservalleyfoodtruck.com.