The inaugural Joliet Food Truck Festival took over ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium this weekend.
The Saturday event featured nearly 20 food trucks during its inaugural year, but sampling the cuisine from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. wasn’t the only thing going on. The scene at Memorial Stadium also was filled with music, dancing, a beer garden and more.
“My company does a variety of different food truck festivals and craft beer festivals covering the western suburbs mostly,” said Alessandro Vazquez, president of Brew Avenue Events. “We’ve been really interested in coming out to … Joliet, Shorewood. A lot of our fans at our other events always tell us, ‘Oh, come by us.’”
Among the food trucks serving up good eats during the Joliet festival were Cheese’s Truck, Sausage Fest, Baby Q’s Truck and more.
The event sold about 800 tickets online in advance, organizers said.
Vazquez said the reason food truck festivals are so popular is easy to pinpoint.
“I think that there’s a little bit adventure here,” he said. “You get to try different foods from different cultures. You can learn things you might like, you might not like. For me, I really enjoy the thrill of ’what are they serving today?’ I don’t have access to these trucks on a daily basis. To me, that’s the fun part.”
A cold beer and a grilled cheese sandwich were exactly what Justin Woods of Joliet wanted. He and Rachel Woods sat at a table together.
“We did ourselves in,” Justin said.
Justin said he was looking forward to trying the sausage next. The Woodses both said they were full.
The event was a first for the city of Joliet. Some communities already host annual food truck festivals.
“We’re always a big fan of food trucks,” Justin said.
Rachel chimed in, saying she would ”definitely come back next year.”
Elsewhere, people lounged in the grassy areas in chairs and blankets.
Joliet resident Tammy Taylor was enjoying the company of her daughter, Savannah, at the event. Tammy said she’d never been to a food truck festival previously.
“I’ve wanted to, but this is the first time I’ve been,” she said.
Tammy had ordered a Filipino pancit, which she said she liked. She said that coming out to the festival was a good idea, but she wished it wasn’t so windy.
Tammy said she believes food truck festivals are popular because it’s all about “being able to have a variety all in one spot.” She said she would like to go back to the Joliet festival, should event organizers hold it again next year.
Tommy Cutinello, co-owner of Baby Q’s Truck, said he’s excited knowing people turned out in good numbers for the inaugural event.
“People seem to be happy,” he said. “They’re trying everything from all the food trucks.”
Cutinello said the most raved-about menu item among festivalgoers approaching his food truck is the cheddar gouda macaroni and cheese—dubbed Piggy Mac.
“It has one of four smoked meats on top with a light sauce,” Cutinello said.
Cutinello also runs a restaurant in town with help from co-owner JoJo Munoz and team member Mata Gonzalez.
“I wouldn’t be in business without my teammates,” Cutinello said.
A portion of this year’s proceeds will benefit the Joliet Park Foundation and its effort to enhance, support and promote quality facilities and services in partnership with the Joliet Park District, organizers said.
“I hope to make this an annual event and maybe move it a month or two earlier to get that warm weather,” Vazquez said.