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St. Armands Food Truck fest brings cuisine from around the country

Paella cooking at the Seafood Market food truck at St. Armands Food Truck Rally and Music Festival.
Paella cooking at the Seafood Market food truck at St. Armands Food Truck Rally and Music Festival.
Photo by Petra Rivera
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The St. Armands Food Truck Rally and Music Festival gave new meaning to "all you can eat."

The Paragon Festivals event took over Ken Thompson Park the weekend of Jan. 19-21. Paragon Festivals is usually known for its seafood festivals, which the company hosts from Clearwater to Naples. This time the festival company wanted to pivot to a trend foodies have been raving about: food trucks. 

“Food trucks are the new upcoming thing,” said Lisa Phillips, who was working the festival's ticket booth. “This is the first time we are doing it in Ken Thompson and the atmosphere is just beautiful. I like to stick to our traditional seafood, so I think we have amazing options for that along with some other different things to try.”

Tracy Moon, Kerri Hughes and Kate Defrancesco
Photo by Petra Rivera

The festival company followed the same format as its other festivals. General admission was free but food trucks only accepted tickets for payment. Each ticket was $1. Bar and drink carts accepted regular payment. People could also browse arts and crafts vendors before entering the main festival.

“You get to see so many people,” said  David Hobbs, director of music events. “When we build our little village and people come to see it, it's rewarding. You'll understand that our format was very similar: craft and arts vendors, the food presentation, a full liquor bar.”

Remi Harpal and Kevin Richards with the Seafood Market Food Truck at the St. Armands Food Truck Rally and Music Festival.
Photo by Petra Rivera

Fifteen food trucks comprised the festival. They came from around the country. There was the Great American Quesadilla Company, Seasoned Green Vegan Food and the Seafood Market truck. The options included burgers, fish and chips, tacos, hot dogs, paella, jambalaya, seafood, funnel cakes, fried Oreos, frozen drinks, beer, soda and cocktails.  

The New Jersey-based restaurant turned food truck, Vagabond Kitchen and Tap House, was featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri. 

Mom's Shaved Ice is a local food truck owned by Longboat Key resident Todd Cunningham. Cunningham ensures flavor in every bite of his shaved ice by smashing down the ice with his hands instead of giving out the typical ball-shaped shaved ice cups. He provides everyone's favorite flavors such as cherry, blue raspberry and pina colada.

Don Speciale with Vagabond Kitchen and Tap House at the St. Armands Food Truck Rally and Music Festival.
Photo by Petra Rivera

“We do have some of the food vendors that follow us so we definitely have our regulars,” said David Hobbs. “Three of them have put on food trucks, our regular seafood vendors, just to be a part of this festival with us. It’s important to make these strong relationships with the vendors and the sponsors. Then also we put on amazing musical entertainment. All are local.”

The local music entertainment included Trey Wanvig Band, Free Fallin’, YaYa Diamond & The Dream Chasers, Big Night Out, The Griswolds, All Fired Up, Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio, 22N, Jack’D Up, Dr. Dave Band and Kara Nally Band.

“It was a little chilly but I thought it was a good mix to be eating food and listening to music,” said Longboat resident Jack Harkness. “We came to see our favorite local band and it was a really nice environment.”

Most people started with around 20 tickets and then went back for seconds. Tracy Moon, who attended the festival Friday evening, said they got drinks first to enjoy the music and then after a round they were able to pick which food trucks to try. 

“I like that it covers all the bases with the variety of trucks here because I was able to try two different things,” said Moon. “We got around 30 tickets each but now after going around and seeing the desserts we have to get more. We have to take advantage of the different tasty treats here.”

Rosemary Varone and Sheila Pottorff
Photo by Petra Rivera

Paragon Festivals is moving to Sarasota next for the eighth annual Sarasota Seafood and Music Festival. This will be Jan. 26-28 at JD Hamel Park. 

Bands 22N, YaYa Diamond and The Dream Chaser, Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio, and Kara Nally will be performing again along with a mix of new local artists.

Hobbs said that the main festival goal is to create a village of food and drink vendors in a relaxing atmosphere with a beautiful backdrop and wonderful live music.



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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