Minnesota Food Truck Fair leaves fans crying foul

Categories: Events
MN Food Truck Fair.jpg
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.


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37 comments
Nycfoodtrcks
Nycfoodtrcks

Went to a food truck event on governors island last year, same thing happened. Super long lines for drinks and hour waits for food until it ran out . All could have been avoided with research and preplanning, clearly you can't just invite as many pplas you can sell tics to. Duh. Also Brooklyn is the hipster capital of the USA, undisputeably the largest population&density.

jaydeekay
jaydeekay

A food truck fair? Wow. Only in Minneapolis would something so stupid be considered so cool. Why not do what other cities do and have food truck gatherings? Further proof Minneapolis is the hipster capital of America.

dmdaily10
dmdaily10

I think the best leaders acknowledge when they fail.  And clearly, they did not.  They tried to make excuses about an event that was planned poorly.  I can honestly say that we did not purchase tickets because of all the confusing pricing offers.  Much to be learned, and I hope they do.  I love all of our MN Food trucks and wish them nothing but success.

Aela
Aela

Sounds like attendees to this event felt similarly ripped off as those attending the "first annual MN cheese festival," except for that event, City Pages posted an article interviewing the organizer making excuses, with thinly veiled barbs at the stupidity of Minnesotans for standing in line.  The article about this failed fest has the author bitching right along with all the attendees (perhaps a difference is that this author actually attended the festival and experienced the frustration, not sure if the author of the cheese festival review did attend...or if he just covered the aftermath) and promising that they will "keep us posted as the story develops."  Maybe I have a case of the Mondays, but I have the feeling that both MN food festivals and CP review of them should just take a hiatus.  

kenny1
kenny1

This is yet another example of how the food scene here in Welfareapolis sucks.  As if the brick and mortar restaurants don't suck enough as it is, even our food trucks are lame.  Who in the hell would stand in line for 2+ hours waiting to get a lackluster taco, burger, or a lobster roll that, like East Coast Doug said, could easily be made at home.

 

As I always have said, "You want good food in the Twin Cities?  Head east on 94 and take the Chicago exit."

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

Only in Minneapolis would people stand in line, buy tickets in advance, for a food truck.

 

This is hilarious.   Go buy a basic cookbook, and make your own!

Judd Greenagel
Judd Greenagel

I'm going to the third Food Truck Festival that Canterbury Park is having this Friday night. $5 gets you access to all trucks, a band and live horse racing. Can't beat it. And it is very well organized.

Sommer Berg
Sommer Berg

What Erica Anderson said - simple math would have easily predicted this would happen. Also advertising there would be 25 craft breweries giving free samples to VIP ticket holders, when there were only about 5 lines for beer. 30 minutes for a couple ounces of beer. I don't care if it's your first year; do your research, critically think, and get it right.

Bernard Williams
Bernard Williams

I figured this would happen and I knew the first year would be working the bugs out. Similar to Taste of Stillwater, ever though this year wasn't that good either!!!

Angela Bushman
Angela Bushman

The entire concept is baffling to me. Food trucks are to be followed on Twitter or encountered serendipitously. I'd prefer to support these small businesses, rather than event organizers!

Stephanie O'Connor Johnson
Stephanie O'Connor Johnson

Waiting in line for the gates to open 15 minutes after the schedule time was ridiculous. The ones with admission tickets got in the gates long before VIP people; no one collected our paid VIP vouchers from Living Social. (Not that it was a lose for me, but maybe the fairs) Once in the fair the lines were long, but worth the wait! (While waiting in the long lines you should have got a beer or ate your food in the line from the previou truck, it made the lines go faster.) They have some things to work- out, but if you like food and beer, you should've had a goodtime regardless of the disorganization.

Erica Anderson
Erica Anderson

Jill - the complaints are well founded. The only people guilty of this debacle is the organizers who clearly needs to be schooled in math & organization.

Jennifer Reicherts
Jennifer Reicherts

My friend and I paid for the living social coupon. After standing in line for 30 mins for a joke of a free beer (and I mean a shot glass) and ended up paying $6 for barely 8 oz., we stood in another line for another 45 mins never getting food because the food truck ran out and no one was honoring the VIP wrist bands. The trucks were told to only honor tickets. The layout was so badly done and no one could even walk through the crowd let alone figure out which line was for which truck. We left and ate at Pizza Luce. This was embarrassingly poorly organized. It's sad because several of the trucks there are amazing and are owned by good people. This was a very bad event. I hope the food trucks don't suffer for the organizer's complete incompetence.

a.guy.in.minneapolis
a.guy.in.minneapolis

"we wanted as many people as possible to experience the event" basically translates to "we wanted as much money as possible." This was honestly the worst event I've attended. I stood in line for over 45 minutes just to get in the gate, being fed some line that "at 11:59 the city of Minneapolis told us that we needed to check all IDs at the gate..." How was this not the original plan? We all knew there was going to be beer at the event. Had the organizers truly intended on having people behind the "bar" checking IDs? It was almost as if they saw how much of a clusterfu*k it was right off the bat and wanted to shift blame so the 2k+ people waiting in line wouldn't begin tweeting about the 2k+ people in line.

 

Once in the event, good luck getting beer or food. I stuck around for about 15 minutes before deciding it wasn't worth our time. People were looking at 1.5hrs+ in a food line and, in some cases, the trucks had ran out of food before they even got to order. 

 

Fortunately, WSK could be found only 2 miles away at Loring Park serving up their deliciousness. We headed that way, stood in line for <5 minutes and had a Bangkok Burrito within 10 minutes of our arrival. 

 

In summation: I paid $7 to stand in line for nearly an hour to enjoy a 4oz sample of Vitamin Water. Awesome event, y'all. Maybe you should rebrand yourselves as 'Mill City Food Truck Fair' and people might forget this happened. On the other hand, you could just take that $40,000+ in ticket sales and just skip town.

 

 

Juniper Lee
Juniper Lee

That's a bummer. Lessons learned for next year!

snyde0431
snyde0431

I attended this event and the problem basically boiled down to selling tickets far beyond capacity. From what I gathered, the organizers didn't talk enough with the food truck owners to really get an idea of how many people they could accommodate. Had ticket sales been limited to maybe 2,000 or 3,000, it would have been a really nice first event and something to build on with more trucks participating in the future.

lyndizzle
lyndizzle

I think people bought tickets for this solely to complain about it. Nobody saw this coming?

Jill Walek
Jill Walek

There was a good point made that this was a first year event, but no pop AND water? Water is essential, even thought it wasn't that hot this weekend, it's still summer in Minnesota. I kind of feel bad for the vendors. If there's one thing I have learned in life, it's that people will complain about anything and everything if it doesn't go their way. Especially consumers.

Bobannon
Bobannon

I've been to the Canturbury Park Food Truck Festival in the past and it wasn't all that successful either.  Which is why I didn't go to this one.  Those food trucks pretty much make everything to order and simply can't keep up with demand.  It's a great idea, but logisticly, pretty hard to pull off.  At the Canterbury thing it wasn't as disasterous because when those trucks all ran out of food....which was early.....or the lines were too long, people could go inside and eat at one of the many other food options in Canterbury.  Plus there is plenty of beer, cards and horse racing to occupy people with.  It really seems like the organizers should have aniticipated the problems at this event. 

Nate Reiter
Nate Reiter

Were they parked outside The Brick? Ba-dum-bum.

Dave Eckblad
Dave Eckblad

What's the point of a food truck fair? All fairs have food trucks already. So, a food truck fair is a fair without the fair?

Susan Woehrle
Susan Woehrle

Capitalism at it's finest. I love how they tried to play it off as an innocent mistake rather than a transparent attempt to make as much money and provide as little product as humanly possible.

Russell Peterson
Russell Peterson

Event Planning 101: Don't sell tickets to more than you can accommodate.

Nate Reiter
Nate Reiter

I visit the trucks downtown at lunch sometimes... and when I saw something promoting this event, it didn't add up for me... a bunch of peeps in line at food trucks... drag.

Chris Havranek
Chris Havranek

We got there promptly at 12:30 and saw the line was a couple blocks long. Needless to say we promptly went to Anchor Fish & Chips instead. Thankfully I got tickets from Groupon and they refunded me.

Rebeca Solares
Rebeca Solares

eeek, and we considered going but kind of glad we didn't

Nicholas S. Goers
Nicholas S. Goers

Glad I didn't go! Although it was their first go at it... Should start out low key than and trying not to do too much your first year! Any novis event organizer knows that...

jasonmichaeldouglas
jasonmichaeldouglas

This is why you don't put event tickets on a Groupon or Living Social type of site. The TC Originals struggled with this a couple years back. What is more important: having a mass amount of people attend an event and have a negative experience, or having a more realistic amount of people attend that are pleased? 

 

If you are to do the discount site route, consider having a two day festival. 

 

Or... put a realistic cap on how many discount tickets are sold. 

 

Or... don't give in to those who missed out on countless opportunities to purchase tickets at a discounted rate. 

 

I'm not an event planner. I'm a marketer. But seeing tweets from this weekend, maybe the organizers should hire me as someone who can bring some common sense to next year's event. 

 

woodnymph79
woodnymph79

 @Aela I attended both events, the Food Truck Fair and the Cheese Festival. I was irritated at the cheese festival, but not nearly as livid as I was at this event. The MnFTF charged people a lot more money for what they advertised as "unlimited" free samples from 25 craft breweries. There were 5 beer lines. I didn't see 25 craft breweries. That is an outright lie; a bait and switch. And not something that they just couldn't anticipate like people lining up for cheese because they don't understand that you can just walk up and take a sample and step back, like any beer fest we have in the cities. This was an epic FAIL. The organizers made a lot of money promising free beer for premium ticket prices, while people would have been better off not paying the premium and buying large cups of beer for $6 a pop to sip on while they stood in line. The cheese fest had redeeming qualities and was cheaper. This was a matter of the organizers not being able or willing to compute simple math based on ticket sales and product availability. They continued to offer VIP tickets at the entrance even after they were able to observe the obscenely long lines (30 minutes) to receive a tiny shot glass of beer.

UhHuh
UhHuh

 @kenny1 Outstanding! A second fan of gay bukkake.

kenny1
kenny1

 @UhHuh I can understand why you are so hateful.  Hint: You haven't removed the dildo from your anus yet.  Just slide it out, wash it off, and eat some corn.  

UhHuh
UhHuh

Aw Kenny, what your mom say to hear you use such language. If you're going to act butthurt, don't troll in the first place.

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