Food Cart Fest


Tonight was the first ever Food Cart Fest. The fest, held in an old warehouse underneath the Fremont Bridge, was a fund-raiser for Mercy Corps NW and Hacienda CDC. For $5, one got to sample the wares of eleven local food carts. A food cart fest is a great idea, as Portland’s food carts sport some of the tastiest food anywhere. Raising money for two very deserving charities was also a fine idea. As a fund-raiser, I’m betting Food Cart Fest was a smash hit. As a celebration of Portland’s food carts, however, it came up a bit lacking.

Don’t get me wrong – there were a ton of people there. That’s fantastic for the charities, and I am absolutely stoked that they made a lot of money tonight. However, the organizers did not expect this many people – and that was bad for the attendees. I arrived at 6:30 (a mere hour after festivities began), and Julia’s Mobile Cafe had already run out of food. Most of the other carts had long lines – made worse by the fact that they had to snake around large, empty tables (tables are a fine idea in the bar area, but when the sample given is no more than a couple of mouthfuls, there’s really no need (or time) to sit down with the sample). The lines moved fairly quickly – the notable exception was the line for the Altengartz Bratwurst cart, which took over 20 minutes. By 7:45, about half of the carts had run out of food, and the crowd began to clear out. When I left after 8:00, there were only a few that were still serving – and there was nearly an hour left in the event.

That said, given the choice between overcrowding and not enough food, or undercrowding and not enough money being raised, I’m in favor of the former every time. Still, this is Portland. Food Carts are HUGE. A Food Cart Fest is a fantastic idea – the kind of things Portlanders would come out for in droves. To me, it seems obvious that the event would be highly attended.

But, in the large scheme of things, my complaints are minor. As a charity raising event, it was a huge hit – and that is fantastic. Here’s hoping that they make this an annual tradition. Once the wrinkles are ironed out, this will be a winner.

The food I did sample was awesome (and those Brats were worth the wait). For me, the winner was the maple bacon ice cream (with real bacon bits!) from Junior Ambassador. Fantastic stuff.

2 Comments so far

  1. chris on April 20th, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

    Ah… EAST side. I had to look for the original promotion even to understand WHERE under the Fremont the event happened.

    For those that care:

    $5 seems pretty cheap.

  2. whipitup on April 20th, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

    this was an amazing event. we had a great time, even though it was quite chilly. don’t forget about the cool artwork, great live music, and beer garden with $1 beers! great tamales from the hacienda booth, too. too bad about running out of food, but it bodes well for next time! thanks to all who organized this event and i hope everyone came out winners. i will definitely attend next time, and bring more people!

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