BY MICHAEL CHAIKEN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Gaze at the cars and skateboarders while you fill your belly and sip wine slushees this weekend in Naugatuck as Naugapalooza gets underway.
The event runs Saturday and Sunday and features the Naugapalooza Car Show and the opening of the borough’s new skateboard park.
But the centerpiece of the weekend will be Food Truck Battles, where 50 food trucks will go head-to-head to see who has the best grub, according to the public (and tallied via QR code). And the public will do battle as food eating contests will be held throughout the day.
The event also will feature live music and a DJ. There also will be rides, a juggler and clowns.
This will be the second year Food Truck Battles has settled down in Naugatuck. Last year, the event drew 32,000 people to the borough, according to Dave Reilly and Jen Fernandez of Connecticut Food Truck Battles.
Reilly said Connecticut Food Truck Battles is part of a company that puts on festivals to raise money for nonprofits and charities. Last year’s event helped Naugatuck’s Ecumenical Food Pantry. This year, it will help the Naugatuck Valley Soup Kitchen.
The food truck festival was born because Reilly and Fernandez also own Stick It Graphics in Waterbury. And the business applies graphic wraps to most of the food trucks in the northeast.
Last year, to celebrate the business’s 10th anniversary, they organized a food truck festival featuring many of its clients.
“We were talking about different things (to celebrate the anniversary),” said Reilly when asked about the inspiration for the festival. “We should have a competition,” they decided. And then the thought came up to hold a food truck competition. Then they added on a food eating competition to the festivities.
“Last year was an amazing, amazing event,” said Reilly.
And there subsequently was a request for its return this year.
Naugatuck Mayor Pete Hess joined the fray by adding activities for a borough-wide event. And the Food Truck Battles became part of the larger Naugapalooza event.
Attendees will find a wide variety of foods this weekend, said Reilly.
“Because we wrap so many food trucks, we decided we wanted a variety of stuff so there’s no more than two (types of food) that are even close to each other,” said Reilly. There will be some repeat of staples like fries and macaroni and cheese at some of the trucks. “But, no, you’re not going to have six fried dough trucks or three pizza trucks.”
There will be a scattering of food trucks from out of state, said Reilly.
But the focus will be on food trucks from Connecticut.
In addition to the food, Reilly said there will be craft beers for sale. There also will be wine slushees for sale (which will be made with wine from Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen).
Reilly and Fernandez said they hope the Naugatuck event will become part of a larger Food Trucks Battles empire.
“Our plan is to do a Food Truck Battles in different locations, so we’re speaking now with people in Massachusetts. We’re looking at doing one down by the casinos. We’re looking at another one in New York,” said Reilly. “People are talking about licensing out the name from us; so it has turned into something of a larger scale so now.”
Naugapalooza will be held downtown and in Linden Park, Naugatuck. Naugapalooza is free. However, there is a fee for the food at the Food Truck Battles.
The Naugapalooza Car Show will be held Saturday, May 20, 4 to 9 p.m.
The Naugatuck Skateboard Park will be open all day Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21.
The grand opening of the new park is Friday, May 19 at 6 p.m.
Food Truck Battles will run Saturday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 21 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For information, visit NaugyNow.com and CTFoodTruckBattles.com.