Second Food Truck Festival raises the stakes

Customers buy food at Snoutherns and The Southern Star. Both trucks are from Topeka.

Ryan Thompson

Visit Topeka Inc. hosted the second Capital City Food Truck Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 11 in Gage Park.

Visit Topeka partnered with Shawnee County Parks and Rec and 34 trucks from Kansas, Colorado and Missouri to make this event happen.

Michaela Saunders, director of brand strategy at Visit Topeka, felt the organization was much more prepared than last year.

“We had 13 trucks [last year],” said Saunders. “We were expecting about 500 people and 10,000 people showed up last year. We found out Topeka really loves food trucks.”

As to be expected, great food was plentiful. Jerusalem Cafe sold gyros, hummus and what seemed like buckets of herbal lemonade. Snoutherns served jerk chicken meals with rice and cabbage. Snowball Palace helped stave off the heat with shaved ice in a plethora of flavors. Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch from Wichita offered Ahi Poke, which is raw tuna chunks marinated in sesame oil and served with onions and rice. From the Topekan perspective, Noble House likely offered the most uncommon dishes.

“They have so many options,” said Jessica Knief, a junior public relations major at Washburn University. “It’s really cool to see all the small businesses of Topeka coming out, these little restaurants we didn’t know about.”

In addition to the food trucks, the event also hosted vendors, entertainers, mascots and three live bands.

Nanci Kennedy, a Barefoot Books ambassador, sold a wide variety of children’s books. Sheila Wagner, local designer, displayed her jewelry. Kip Walker provided laser tag in Gage Park.

Capital City Food Truck Festival maintained a steady supply of entertainment to go with the available delicacies. Two local tribute bands, Flashback and Blazing Mojo, played covers of classic rock songs from artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Black Sabbath. Kansas City musician AJ Young performed original music at the event with his band.

In addition to live music, the event also featured a juggler and a magician, both of whom doubled as comedians. Daniel Edwards, or Daredevil Dan, came all the way from Boulder, Colorado, to juggle up to five flaming torches in 90 degree weather. For his finale, which he referred to as “a dumb idea,” he juggled a torch, a knife and a rubber chicken while balancing on a unicycle.

Because one man playing with fire in the summer heat wasn’t enough, Tyler Korso, a magician from Kansas City, incorporated fire eating into his magic show. Korso set a goal to perform every single day in 2016 and so far he has stuck to it.

The event received an undoubtedly positive reception.

“Topeka’s a really awesome city,” said Knief. “Coming out to these [events] really shows what an awesome place it is to live.”

Saunders encouraged students to keep track of Topeka 365 for future events.

“We know people in Topeka love to celebrate,” said Saunders. “They love to be out and doing things and we see it as our job to make that happen.”