This coming Saturday, July 12, Montpelier will get its first food-truck rally. Trucks will converge on the downtown lot at 60 Main Street and serve food from 5 to 10 p.m. — an occurrence that will repeat on four consecutive weekends, through August 2. Burlington's ArtsRiot, the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing and Montpelier Property Management teamed up to bring the series to fruition, with heavy support from the Montpelier City Council.
At press time, ArtsRiot cofounder PJ McHenry was still finalizing this Saturday's lineup. Patrons can expect between five and 10 trucks weekly, he says, with appearances from the Hindquarter, Burger Barn, Southern Smoke, Nikos Souvlaki and Dessert for Breakfast, among others. Fiddlehead Brewing and Citizen Cider will pour adult beverages.
The event builds on ArtsRiot's successful Friday Truck Stops in Burlington and marks the organization's first foray into central Vermont. At this point, McHenry's contact network skews heavily toward Chittenden County, he says, but he'd love to bring on more central Vermont vendors. "We don't have a lot of connections in the [Montpelier area], because we do business in Burlington," he says, "But we're more than open to partner with new people."
Since Burlington's Truck Stop happens behind ArtsRiot, a gallery as well as restaurant and café, there's a natural artistic connection. McHenry says he's working to bring that to the Montpelier iteration, too. "There's not a highly programmed art component" right now, he says, "but we've been in talks with some artists and businesses down there. This is supposed to be a block-party atmosphere, so if [local artists and businesses] want to come and sell [their] wares, we're more than willing to collaborate."
The big idea is to promote local businesses and get people into downtown Montpelier during evening hours so they can engage with it as a destination. Jesse Jacobs, who helped spearhead the series and runs Montpelier Property Management with his father, Jeff Jacobs, says city council excitedly approved the events as a pilot run. "Knock on wood," Jesse Jacobs says, "if the event is successful, we can extend it a bit."
That could mean more truck stops later this summer or next year; Jacobs says he'd love to bring the series back next summer. "Everybody who's been a part of bringing this to light is hopeful that it'll continue," he says.
Programmed on the heels of Montpelier's successful Park in the Street event in June, which gave artists and vendors parking spots as canvasses for art installations, the Truck Stop is part of a larger scheme to reinvigorate Montpelier, Jacobs says. "It's all part of the same mission," he continues, noting that he's working with ArtsRiot and Montpelier Alive to put together another citywide arts event for fall. "People around town are really excited, because things like this haven't happened in Montpelier for quite a while. It's been a long time coming."