TAMPA, FL – For weeks, organizer Jeremy Gomez told people he expected 10,000 people to attend the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
“In my head, I was thinking probably only 6,000 would show up,” Gomez said.
Instead, an estimated 20,000 people overwhelmed 99 trucks that came from across Florida and as far away as Texas and South Carolina to serve food and attempt a new Guinness World Record on Saturday for the most trucks gathered at one event.
Despite long lines for food and parking and beer and everything else, organizers already are planning a 200-truck rally next year.
Fairgrounds officials said today the parking lot refilled three times during the nine-hour event. That usually only happens on busy weekends during state fair season.
The unexpected crush of fans caused a food shortage, with several vendors running out of menu items as early as 1:30 p.m. for an event scheduled to last until 8 p.m.
Without knowing how many customers they would have, Gomez told truck operators during the weeks leading up to the rally to limit their menus or bring less food than normal so as not to waste food and lose money.
That forced vendors Danny and Kim Flores of Holy Crepe! and several other truck operators to run to nearby groceries to restock their refrigerators. Some did so as many as three times.
Gomez said he ran through two 100-pound propane tanks and an 80-pound supply of the kangaroo meat he grilled and served on a stick. One vendor who served tropical drinks in pineapples with the tops lopped off reported customers were scalping them to others who wanted to avoid the long line.
Others persevered through more challenging problems. The Mayan Grill Food Truck broke down on Interstate 4 on the way to the rally. The vehicle was towed to the fairgrounds, where it served Central American pupusas to hundreds of customers. The owners made enough money to be towed home to Orlando.
Margaret Aiken Loflin, operator of Maggie on the Move, posted on Facebook that trucks weren’t expecting those numbers.
“We won’t be caught off guard again!” Loflin wrote.
Find the entire article by Jeff Houck at tbo.com <here>