New Haven held its largest food truck festival yet at Long Wharf Pier last Saturday with 50 food trucks and a dragon boat regatta along the Quinnipiac River.
The fourth annual event began at noon with the annual Dragon Boat Regatta. Deputy Economic Development Administrator Steve Fontana announced the start of the race and congratulated event organizer Aidan Charles of the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program. On top of the regatta, the festival featured food trucks serving delicious snacks from lobster rolls to Italian ice and live performances from local bands, including Caribbean Vibe Steel band, Sez Zion Jazz Band and The Bossa Nova Project.
The 50 food trucks – including Antojos Criollos, Belgian Bus, Boothbay Lobster Co., Drewba Q, Ixtapa Taco’s Truck, Lucky Dog, Milkcraft, Szabo’s Seafood, Thai Taste Food Truck and What is Real? Ice Cream —were lined up along Long Wharf Drive.
“The food truck festival and the dragon boat regatta were organized to help celebrate the city’s beautiful shoreline and its maritime heritage,” said mayoral Laurence Grotheer. “In addition, the dragon boat races drew attention to one of New Haven’s new and prominent features, which is the canal dock boathouse.”
Charles said that the food trucks hailed from all over the state, including Stamford, Norwich and Hartford. The number of participating food trucks doubled from last year last year, and 12,000 people attended the event throughout the day, Charles said.
Thomas Nguyes said he and his friends were drawn to attend the festival by food trucks selling “cool things that people don’t regularly eat.” Like the ice cream in waffe bubblcones for sale at the Milkcraft truck and Chompers’ deep fried balls of ground meat and cheese, two of the biggest draws of the day.
“Bubble cone is a cool thing that no other company in New Haven makes,” said Milkcraft General Manager Seth Amado. The afternoon heat helped draw customers as well. By the evening, the Milkcraft food truck ran out of liquid nitrogen needed to make the ice cream.
Roger Jaruchaiyakul, from the Thai Taste food truck, said he’s hoping all the business he attracted Saturday will spill over.
He attributed the brisk sales to two factors: “We were the only Thai food truck there.” And “we have huge windows where people can see how the food is made.” “So many people were surprised by how good Thai food was at the event, and I think our food truck will do even better over the summer.”
According to John Pescatore, a coach from Canal Dock Boathouse, the dragon boat races needed to start in the middle of the day when the tide was high enough and the water deep enough. A dragon boat is a 40-foot canoe with 20 paddlers, a drummer who maintains the cadence and a steers-person. The early race gave participants – many of whom are part of city community organizations and major employers in town – time to spend more time visiting the food trucks and beer tents, Pescatore said.
Three boats raced against each other at a time, with the three top performing teams competing at the championship round at the end. In addition to the New Haven Dragon Boat Regatta Trophy, the Canal Dock Boathouse also awarded participating teams for best team song and cheer, best drummer costume and best campsite.