By Journalist Ms. Jones
NEWBURGH – “Oooh! They have oxtails!” Those are one of the many comments that festival goers said excitedly as they attended the Food Truck Festival on Sunday, July 3rd.
It was held on Broadway and Colden in the City of Newburgh. DJ Tee Why Beamon played the latest music, while Big Drip Italian Ice helped festival goers stay cool.
“Oh, it feels wonderful [to be a part of the Food Truck Festival]. I love it! I think it should be more. It represents the town, gives growth to the town, [and] brings people out,” said William Stratford, owner of Big Drip Italian Ice, who started his business two years ago. “I would like to see it done every year, possibly twice a year.”
The Food Truck Festival featured a variety of food trucks which served a range of cuisines. Gennie’s Soul Food Restaurant, located in Poughkeepsie, served soul food with a twist of Mexican culture. People were lined up to eat jerk chicken and rice, Mexican street corn dressed with mayonnaise and cilantro, and chicken or seafood paella. They will be changing their name soon to Gennie’s Soul Food and Mole Mole Mexican Fusion.
“We’re twisting it. I do lobster tacos. I do jerk chicken tacos. I do pulled pork tacos. I do a mac ‘n cheese taco. We also do the regular catfish, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, salmon cakes, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles and we’re infusing Mexican. We’ll do a chimichanga with pulled pork. We’ll do a chimichanga with jerk chicken,” said Carlos Wood who is a fourth generation chef and the grandson of Gennie.
Not all of the food truck owners have a physical location.
“The more you go out… the more different folks happen to try your meal… It’s a big advertisement,” said Noel Hall of Reggae Boy Cafe who does not have a physical restaurant, just the food truck, and participates in fairs and festivals in all of the surrounding counties. “I’m thrilled to be here. I’m thrilled when we have Black folks promoting something like this… People need to see that we as Black folks can put stuff together.”
The Food Truck Festival was organized by NB Pop Culture which consists of Ronnie Fisher, Sonya Grant, and Marcus Simmons. Mayor Torrance Harvey helped create the idea for the Food Truck Festival which led to the formation of NB Pop Culture.
“Ron and Marcus approached me about different ideas and events they wanted to do… Then they had mentioned something about possibly getting a food truck themselves. I said, ‘Man, why don’t ya’ll do a food truck festival?’” said Mayor Harvey, whose dad owned hot dog carts, and put them in touch with Grant. “[There were] issues with the new city codes… You can’t have hot dog trucks on Broadway…It’s always been there, but it was just never enforced. And so, they were doing what they call the… Clean Streets Project…. The Clean Street Project enforces the city code, especially in historical districts, which Broadway is a historical district and they started enforcing it and they told the hot dog trucks they could park on the perpendicular streets, not on Broadway… That kind of created a controversy. A lot of people started calling me, especially the hot dog vendors… the food truck vendors… I kind of felt bad about that. So, when this opportunity came up a few months ago, I made the suggestion to Marcus and Ron and then hooked them up with Sonya and the rest is history… This is going to be an annual event.”
This is Newburgh’s first Food Truck Festival. It was coordinated with the Independence Day fireworks so people would not have to grill and they could watch the fireworks at nine o’clock. NB Pop Culture is working to become a non-profit organization.
“We don’t just have to have one event… There’s so much culture and diversity in the area… We are branding ourselves specifically to support entrepreneurship and small businesses… With the proceeds specifically… from [the Food Truck Festival] event… we want to create a grant where these entrepreneurs can apply for that grant in hopes to support them financially for whatever they are trying to do,” said Grant.