The “Super Bowl of food truck events” came to Discovery Park on Saturday, featuring dozens of colorful rolling kitchens peddling everything from Indian street food to Texas barbecue.
Lines began to form at such venues as La Mex Taqueria and Seoul of Taipei moments after the SactoMoFo festival opened at 11 a.m., kicking off its largest event since its inception in 2011. Organizers expected as many as 25,000 people to visit the festival, temporary home to 44 food trucks, before everything wrapped up at 7 p.m.
Dozens of uniformed officers from private security companies, the Sacramento Police Department and the county parks department roamed the scene, prepared to stave off the kind of violence that killed a man during a concert at the park a week earlier. But organizers said they were confident the event would be mellow as always.
The fatal fight that broke out during last Sunday’s 102.5 Live concert at the park, killing Thomas Noble, 31, “was just a really unfortunate incident,” likely not directly related to the music event, said Paul Somerhausen, SactoMoFo director.
“Anytime you have this many people in one place you’re going to have concerns,” Somerhausen said. “But we have never had a serious issue in the past, and we don’t expect one today. The worst thing that might happen to you here is indigestion.”
About 10,000 people attended the first SactoMoFo at midtown’s Fremont Park, angling for food from just 10 trucks. The event later moved to a space under the Capital City Freeway at Sixth and W streets to accommodate larger crowds. Saturday’s festival was the first at Discovery Park.
The park has been home to several large gatherings in recent years, but not everyone thinks it is a suitable venue. Earlier last week, the Save the American River Association sent a letter to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors arguing that such events are prohibited at Discovery Park under the American River Parkway plan.
Participants in Saturday’s event shrugged off those distractions, queuing up for cups of craft beer, music, children’s activities, arts and crafts and, of course, the food.
“I call it the Super Bowl of food truck events,” said Bobby Mann of the Front Street Animal Shelter. The agency’s nonprofit arm stands to earn as much as $20,000 from beer and wine sales at the festival, he said.
Under intermittently sunny skies around noon, Georgia Tardy and her daughter China were contemplating lunch as they sat on a park bench, nibbling on popcorn and watching China’s daughter Shyann, 8, play in a bounce house a few yards away.
Greek kebabs? Indian lentils? Mexican chicken tacos? It was hard to decide.
“You get to taste so many different kinds of food all in one place,” China Tardy said. “And it’s good for the kids, too.”
The event was the culmination of nine months of planning, Somerhausen said. “It’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of logistics, and it’s 10 times the space we’ve had in the past.”
Sacramento’s hunger for the food truck culture shows no signs of slowing down, he said.
“The community aspect of this is really important,” Somerhausen said. “There is an intangible value to coming out here and being a part of something like this. There’s a wonderful social component that people really love.”