FOOD TRUCK WARS
Downtown Winter Haven at Central Park
40 Gourmet Food Trucks competing for 6 awards
Live Music ~ Judges ~ Kids Area ~ Beer Garden ~ Celebrity Judges
Free Admission / Free Parking
a portion of proceeds benefit the City of Winter Haven
40 Gourmet Food Trucks from all over the State compete in 6 categories. The competition includes the Corny Award, People’s Choice Award, Top Sales, Ticket Taker, Delectable Dessert and Casual Cuisine. There are always new trucks debuting and previous round participants seeking revenge. Foodies have a chance to vote on cuisines from Latin America, British, Caribbean, Gourmet Desserts and everything in between.
Celebrity Chef Judges, spear headed by Chef Jim Whaples, retired President of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association will be on hand to judge Casual Cuisine and Delectable Dessert, while the people will judge the prestigious People’s Choice Award.
Local non-profit organizations work alongside the shows promoters to raise money in support of local charities.
The event includes Celebrity Judges, battle of the bellys, live music, kids area and more.
Food costs generally run from $3 to $18. Most entrees run $6 to $8.
The phenomenon of Gourmet Food Truck rivalry (all in the name of good fun, of course) has been a Huge Hit. At the inaugural event in March 2012 an estimated 30,000 people turned up.
In addition to bringing communities together through this amazing battle of food trucks, food truck owners and foodies have donated over $13,000 to various communities, which have hosted the events.
“Food Truck Wars has been an amazing experience” said Liz Rivera Otts, President of Food Truck Crazy, Inc
"and it can only get bigger and better".
Thousands of people came to bite into lobster rolls, jerk chicken sandwiches, gator tacos, chowders, spuds, Thai rolls, Mama Guava cupcakes and seafood delights.
Fish, tacos and steamed dumplings were the first dishes for Bradenton residents Michael Hart and Keyshia Orlena. But a simple grilled cheese sandwich with pork was the early favorite.
"It was an interesting combination; something new and creative," said Hart.
The trucks lined up outside the Grand Central on Kennedy complex from 4 to 10 p.m. A panel of local chefs sampled the best dishes of food truck chefs from around the state to single out winners in a culinary chef off, the largest single food item, awesome dessert, people's choice and top sales.
The event was sponsored in part by the TECO Line Streetcar System which celebrated its 10th anniversary Saturday by offering 10-cent fares all day, including rides to the nearby Channelside station.
The Sunset Optimist Club and Wesley Chapel Optimist Club raised money for their charitable causes, including youth scholarships, by selling beer and wine and holding prize drawings.
Orlando-based Food Truck Crazy staged the event.
Two prior food truck wars drew more than 20,000 and 30,000 people in Altamonte Springs and Oviedo, respectively, said company President Liz Otts.
It isn't hard to understand the popularity, she said.
"Everybody loves food," she said. "This is very similar to a block party."
Trucks for Saturday's "war" came from the Tampa area but also from Miami and Tallahassee.
Lutz resident Donna Floyd of Big Momma Donna's BBQ Sauce was selling her specialty, blueberry barbecue sauce – hot and mild. "We started out with friends liking it," she said. Now she and her husband are regulars at fresh markets at Ybor City, Tampa and Safety Harbor.
Darren and Laura Geraghty left with a bottle. "It's amazing," said Laura Geraghty, who liked the sweetness mixed with a tart barbecue kicker.
Mary Ann Olson, a fan of food trucks, was visiting from Minneapolis. Her son-in-law sells lobster rolls in that city from his Smack Shack food truck. It is a growing trend that is good for the economy, she said.
"It's about time the small independent person doesn't have to pay astronomical prices for square footage of space," Olson said. "They can feel good about working for themselves."
In addition to an amazing event, food trucks and foodies donated over $3,000 through the Optimist Club.
“Food Truck Wars I was an amazing experience” said Liz Otts, President of Food Truck Crazy, Inc “and Food Truck Wars Tampa will be event better.
Great event! We sat in the car and waited out the storm. I was very glad to see the crowds as soon as the rain let up. Excellent job, Oviedo! Look forward to the next one!
This was a great experience for us. We sold out way too fast, we did not expect the number of people for this event. We will be prepared for the next round. Thanks for the people who came, and thank you for everyone who made this event a success. Of course all the other food trucks also! :) - Banh Mi Palace Food Truck
Be on the lookout as FOOD TRUCK WARS spreads to other areas throughout the State and soon throughout the Country
Facebook posts: StrEats407: what a fun event thank you Liz your team was fantastic! Thank you to Ben our truck lead he went above and beyond he took Olivia to gator truck(Tom) but unfortunately for her he had sold out.
WJRR/Clear Channel: thousands of great people of a million different backgrounds - great credit to all the chefs' and those behind the scenes! Can't wait to share the next, lucky us!
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