First annual Bennington Food Truck Festival planned for September
BENNINGTON — Bennington will welcome its first annual downtown food truck festival this September, complete with breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings from various regional vendors.
Betsy Greenawalt, owner of Main Street business It's Heavenly HolyCow Frozen Yogurt, and Green Mountain Concessions owner Sarah Perrin collaborated this summer to put together the rain-or-shine event, with high hopes for its success and continuation in upcoming years.
Greenawalt and Perrin say this festival is not to make a profit; it's to bring people to downtown Bennington.
"We're not doing this to make money, honest to God," Greenawalt said. "Our purpose is to bring people downtown. Whatever we get for rent is going to marketing [downtown]. This is truly a grassroots effort to help downtown Bennington."
Greenawalt and Perrin say they expect 15 to 20 regional vendors from places like Bennington; North Adams, Mass.; Manchester; Schaghticoke N.Y.; Shelburne, Mass.; and Brattleboro, serving a wide variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods.
"I think we're going to get more than 20, honestly," Perrin added.
The festival will still welcome applications for vendors until Saturday Sept. 1. Those interested can email email@example.com
Foods offered will range from Thai, Jamaican, sandwiches, smoothies, desserts, and more. There will also be a craft distillery vendor offering cocktails and a cash bar with local bartenders. Prices for food will be approximately $4 and up, and drinks will start at around $2.
Greenawalt and Perrin don't want to step on the toes of downtown businesses, so they opted to not serve food that is easily found downtown. For example, the festival will not offer pizza or Mexican food.
The food truck festival isn't just for food, though. Local musicians Vice Versa will play from noon to 2 p.m., and The Throwbacks will play from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Craft vendors will offer items for sale, and there is free face-painting for the kids.
"It's going to be all affordable prices," Greenawalt said.
Greenawalt says she always thought about holding an event like this, but was inspired by an out-of-towner who mentioned Bennington's potential as a town and how a food truck festival would bring extra visitors to downtown.
This got Greenawalt thinking, and she decided to contact Perrin through Facebook, knowing Perrin would be a good resource due to her involvement with her concessions business.
"I've always wanted to do something like this, but haven't had the time," Perrin said.
One weekend in September, time wasn't an issue for Greenawalt or Perrin. They realized they were both free the 15th, so they set the date and began a whirlwind of planning.
"Since we got in touch with one another we kind of fed off one another," Perrin said.
It all began coming together in July as the two began discussing the logistics of the festival and contacting the vendors.
Originally, the festival was going to be held on private property, but the response from vendors was so positive the festival location was moved to the Harte lot on Main Street. Select Board members unanimously gave their approval for the first block of School Street from Main to Pleasant Street to be closed from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the event.
"It was a shot in the dark getting vendors this late," Perrin said. "This time of year, vendors are so busy and booked."
Aside from Perrin's connections with food truck owners, social media has been one of the main ways of getting the word out about the festival. Greenawalt says the event post has reached nearly 100,000 people. The two even developed a social media hashtag, #BennVtFoodTruckFest so event-goers can tag the event on posts and pictures.
Greenawalt said that she would have been happy getting only a few food trucks this year due to the short notice, but it worked out for the better.
"It blossomed," she said excitedly. "People actually started responding."
If you go ...
What: Bennington food truck festival
When: Saturday, Sept. 15, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Harte lot, Main Street, Bennington.
Cost: Free admission
Tag #BennVtFoodTruckFest on Instagram.
Christie Wisniewski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.
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