GULF SHORES — Have you ever thought about your ideal day? If it includes a view of beautiful beaches in ideal fall temperatures, sampling food from 20-30 food trucks while sipping an ice-cold …
GULF SHORES — Have you ever thought about your ideal day? If it includes a view of beautiful beaches in ideal fall temperatures, sampling food from 20-30 food trucks while sipping an ice-cold beverage you are in luck.
Dig out your stretchy holiday meal pants early and head to Gulf Shores Nov. 12-13 for Baldwin County's first Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival.
Food Truck Festivals of America produces food truck festivals nationally and are bringing their expertise to the Alabama Gulf Coast for the first time. Despite being new to the area, they are familiar with the Gulf Coast as they have produced a similar event in Panama City Beach for six years.
The Panama City Beach event is what put Food Truck Festivals of America on the radar of Michelle Russ, vice president of sales, sports and events for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports & Events. She worked to recruit the company to host an event in Gulf Shores.
"The Food Truck Festivals of America host successful events in Panama City Beach and other similar markets, so we thought it would be a great addition and complement to our fall event lineup," Russ said.
Owner and Executive Producer Anthony Pepe is excited to introduce the area to the first large scale food truck festival. He said the Gulf Shores event is the biggest new event the company is launching.
"We are pretty excited about it and we are anticipating a huge crowd," Pepe said. "I know Shrimp Fest is a big event there and we are looking to build on that and create an annual event where every year this is a benchmark and a staple event."
Since announcing the event Pepe said the response from food truck vendors has been big with requests from 60 trucks.
"We have gotten a lot of local food trucks signing up and a lot of area food trucks. We generally target within 200 miles of the area because we do like to bring in different food trucks that people aren't familiar with," Pepe said.
Currently the list includes trucks from Georgia, Mississippi, all over Alabama and Panama City Beach. Roughly 25% of the food truck requests have been from the local area. The list of trucks is available to view at foodtruckfestivalsofamerica.com but Pepe said it will continue to change.
"We are narrowing this thing down. We are still working with the local municipalities because this is all new to them, the health department and city, to make sure they (food trucks) can fill all the requirements necessary to be there," Pepe said.
Food trucks are still new to Baldwin County and there has never been an event of this nature with trucks from all over. Pepe said they are working to make sure that everybody is on the same page and making sure that all participating food trucks have the legal requirements.
"They want to make sure all these trucks are safe and fulfilling all the national requirements," Pepe said. "It is a little more in-depth and a little more challenging but at the end of the day we are making it work and we are pretty excited about it."
Being first is not always easy but pulling it off successfully will ensure future events can happen.
"The city has been willing to work with us going through all the tough requirements and regulations," Pepe said. "We are working with the city and tourism board to pull off the first and hopefully many food truck festivals later on down the line."
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism recruited Food Truck Festivals of America because this type of event can boost a normally slow weekend.
"There are plenty of opportunities to capitalize on economic impact outside of the peak summer season to keep locals working year-round and boosting residential quality of life, and this is a great example of that mantra. We anticipate this event brining a bump in room nights and in-market spending on an otherwise slower weekend for the destination," Russ said.
What to expect
Are you new to the food truck festival scene? Seeing 20-30 food trucks to choose from could be intimidating if you let it. Here are some key tips to make the most of the festival:
"Remember you are going to wait in line and this isn't a negative," Pepe said. "I want people to understand this is not fast food. This is food made to order so they are making food that is fresh and is the best food you will have around. Some of these food trucks are gourmet chefs, professional chefs, celebrity chefs and the food is spectacular."
Food Truck Festivals of America has partnered with the Coastal Alabama Foundation and partial proceeds from the event will go to the foundation. They have also partnered with the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber to serve the alcoholic beverages and Gulf Distributing to provide the best local and national brews and beverages for the event.
The Coastal Alabama Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival is Saturday, Nov. 12 and Sunday, Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gulf Place Town Green area, 101 East Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores.
To see a list of food trucks and vendors, to purchase beverage packages or more information on the event, visit foodtruckfestivalsofamerica.com.