By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — The borough’s Food Truck Battles food festival has been deemed a success after a large turnout of people which translated to multiple truck loads of food donations for the local food bank.
The event was held May 14 and 15 in the lots in front of the Naugatuck Event Center on Old Firehouse Road. Several food vendors which included food competitions between various food trucks and comedy performances at the Naugatuck Event Center brought out about 30,000 people altogether. Many attendees brought noon perishable food to fill up about four truckloads worth of food according to event organizer Dave Reilly.
“We are proud to announce that we collected over four truckloads of food and we filled the food bank to its capacity,” Reilly said.
Reilly is a 30-year professional stand up comedian who specializes in Comedy Night Fundraisers for charities and non-profits. He said he initially did the event to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of his Stick it Graphics business that wraps graphics on company vans or food trucks.
When Reilly previously drove by the Ecumenical Food Bank on Spring Street, he realized that he could turn the celebration into something positive to give back to people.
“I was driving by the food bank. I’ve never seen a long line,” Reilly said “There’s a lot of people that could use this food.”
Reilly said the food bank looked like a hoarded house due to the amount of food that was donated. Reilly also had some food donated to various food pantries in the borough.
“That was our goal, to collect actual food,” Reilly said.
Funny Guy productions has raised over $10 million in the last 30 years of doing comedy fundraiser shows according to Reilly, who owns the production company.
Reilly said they’re hoping to do it every year now for different beneficiaries.
Stick It Graphics General Manager Jen Fernandez teamed up with Reilly to put together the event. Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess was very instrumental and played a huge part into the fruition of festival according to Reilly.
“It turned into a wonderful thing,” Reilly said. “It put Naugatuck on the map for a festival.”
People who donated food or money received a ticket to vote for the overall best food truck.
The winner of the People Choice Award was Poutine Gourmet. Besides that Canadian cuisine which received the award, other cuisines included Turkish, Mexican, Latin, BBQ as well as cheesy and bacon related food.
ION Bank was a platinum sponsor and biggest donor to help get the event off the ground, according to Reilly.
Ecumenical Food Bank Director Marty-Lee Fenton said it was absolutely amazing the amount of food that was donated. This comes after the food bank has seen a steady increase in usage over the last weeks and months, she added.
“We’re getting a lot more than what we have,” Fenton said. “We’re taking care of a lot of people.”
Fenton said she was greatly appreciative for the community supporting the food bank.
“We appreciate what they do to keep us going,” Fenton said.