Monday, August 6, 2012 at 2:26 p.m.
Two hours in line yielded two tiny beers
A beautiful summer day, mixed with food trucks, promises of cold beer, and discounted tickets led to a Sunday full of frustrations for many attendees of the first Minnesota Food Truck Fair. Using Groupon and Living Social, organizers sold thousands of tickets to Sunday's event. Through social media, the organizers were still encouraging people to attend the event and reaching out to other food trucks, saying they expected 5,000 people to attend. What happened next left a lot of people angry.
Fourteen trucks were scheduled to appear at the event, plus sliders from Blue Door Pub, local breweries, and the promise of 2 Gingers. Multiple ticket levels were available, giving guests different levels of access to food and brew. Thousands of tickets were reportedly sold through Groupon and Living Social, and more were expected to be available at the door.
As people arrived, the lines grew, stretching for blocks. Frustrated patrons found trucks unable to keep up with the numbers of attendees. Beer was hard to come by, and the 2 Gingers samples that VIP ticket holders were promised were largely unavailable. What was billed as a family-friendly event had no water or soda available.
As the event was scheduled to begin, the MN Food Truck Fair Twitter handle proudly declared, "Teamwork at its finest." They didn't directly address crowds again until after things went south.
Today on their Facebook page organizers said, "As event planners, the first year is always the hardest. You must take unforeseen risks in hopes of creating an atmosphere that participants will enjoy. No one has ever done a Minnesota Food Truck Fair, so we did not know what to truly expect. When we released our tickets on Groupon, we had an overwhelming response, and sold out in three days. We then received emails to give more deals and we answered with another daily deal. Being Minnesotans, we understood that summers are short, and we wanted as many people as possible to experience the event. We never intended to disappoint anyone. For those who left early and were disappointed in the event, no one is more disappointed than the organizers who have invested months to put this event together. Most participants noted that the food trucks were great, the beers were cold but the lines were just too long. We agree. We take every criticism with stride and plan to learn from it. As event planners we will lose sometimes, but we will keep working hard and give it our best to win everyone over as we plan our future events. With the overwhelming participation, we thank all of you for coming out to support us and we know that we will continue to grow and hope you will grow with us."
No one has done a food truck fair in name, but many successful events such as the Beer Dabbler, Canturbury Park Food Truck Festival, and the Street Eats Awards are just a few successful events to celebrate curbside dining.
Angered attendees clamored for refunds, derided the event-planning skills, and went so far as to suggest contacting the attorney general and Better Business Bureau.
Hundreds of angry comments have been left under the Facebook note, but we think it was summed up best by one commentor: "It was one big clusterf**k and you know it."
City Pages has contacted the organizers and trucks who took part in Sunday's fair. We will keep you posted as this story develops.