BY ANDREAS YILMA
NAUGATUCK — The borough’s second Naugapalooza, a festival with a food truck battle, energized guests from across the state with numerous activities for all ages.
An expansion of the borough’s annual Spring Festival, Naugapalooza had some old and new activities and attractions taking place at Parcel B in front of the Naugatuck Event Center, the commuter parking lot across Old Firehouse Road and at Linden Park on Saturday and Sunday.
Among the offerings and events were 100 vendors, about 50 food trucks, 10 bands, a few fair rides for children and a new skateboard park, said comedian Dave Reilly, who organized the Connecticut Food Truck Battle. Vendors and bands were set up at Parcel B and the commuter parking lot and a few bands at Linden Park. Dozens of cars, many of them classics, were brought by their owners for a car show and were parked on Old Firehouse Road and in the commuter lot
Reilly, who owns Fest Ex Productions, an event production company, had help putting together the event from his company partner Jenn Fernandez, Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess and officials from the fire, police, EMTs, park and recreation and street departments.
Some of the cuisine from the food trucks included Thai food, Polish food, macaroni and cheese, steak, pulled pork, poutine, curly fries, tots, chicken, tropical juices, empanadas, pizza, kebabs, gyros and fried dough.
Roughly 10,000 people attended the event on Sunday although the food trucks and live music were stopped early on Saturday due to the rain.
The food truck battle had a few winners, which included Paradise Island, which won the most unique item; Crispy Melty won the cheesies;, Blue Chip Creamery won best dessert and Get Roasted won best overall. There was online voting for the whole day where QR codes were posted throughout the festival grounds.
In addition to businesses competing, children and adults faced off in food eating competitions. There were multiple winners for various items, including donuts on a string, a brain freeze with slushies, and a mac attack with people chugging buckets of mac and cheese.
Reilly said the event was a success, attributing it to communication and planning. He and officials met weekly since January to organize the flourishing event.
“There’s never been something this large in this area,” Reilly said. “Naugatuck has never had an event this big and be successful and it’s a total success because of all the people involved.”
The grand opening of the skateboard park behind the basketball court at Linden Park took place on Friday, but that didn’t stop many children, teenagers and adults from going to the skate park on their skateboards, bikes, roller blades and scooters.
David Peterson, of the company Rampage, who built the skateboard park, said the turnout was overwhelming as he estimated there were about 600 people throughout the day on Sunday. He added there was a pro skater with his own company from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Peterson said during construction of the park, people from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maine contacted him to find out when the park was going to open.
The park consisted of 1.8 million pounds of concrete and seven tons of rebar and steel. It took 900 hours of community help from volunteers to pull together.
“Everybody is just rippin’ this place,” Peterson said. “Every time I turn around, I’m getting a high-five or a dap, saying like ‘Epic, this is what Connecticut needed.’”
This is unheard of. This is amazing stuff we have here.”
Hess said it’s the second time the borough has combined the food truck battle festival and about the towns’ 20th festival.