Food trucks will convene this weekend in Dickinson for North Dakota's final food truck festival of the year, featuring a different eating challenge each day and competitions amongst the chefs — topping it off with a strip of bacon.
The Dickinson Food Truck Rodeo will ride into town from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and will continue from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Elk's Lodge parking lot. This marks the end of the food truck season for the state as other food truck festivals were held throughout the summer in Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks.
This event will be hosted as a partnership of the Elks Lodge, Braun Distributing and 701 Food Trucks. The Dickinson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has also lent its support. Admission to the event is free and open to all.
With the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions on public gatherings, service and more, 2020 was a tough year for many in the food truck business.
“We know people in the community have been hungry for these types of events and we’ve paired that with a handpicked selection of vendors, some of whom missed out on 20 to 30 events last year,” Dickinson Food Truck Rodeo event organizer Mike Schmitz said.
Culinary offerings will range from county fair classics like cheese curds and mini donuts to more exotic offerings such as Filipino cuisine and deep fried green olives. There will also be a full cash bar for the adults, and a mechanical bull for nearly all ages.
“We’re excited to bring this event to town. Dickinson’s a little underserved and deserves to have cool things like this,” Schmitz said. “So we’d just love to see everyone."
Schmitz encourages residents to check out the festivities all three days, as each will feature unique contests and themes.
“We have a different eating challenge each day. Saturday we have a food truck competition where the trucks compete on a German theme. It’s ‘The Best of Oktoberfest,’” he said. “Then Sunday is ‘Makin Bacon Day.’”
A tight labor market and lagging supply chain have resulted in a tough business climate for the food truck industry, Schmitz said.
“I have one truck who’s going to have to back out because their supply chain is completely messed up right now. So that’s unfortunate,” he said. “Some of these national food vendors can’t find drivers.”
Miguel Gutierrez, owner of Rock n Roll Tacos, will be one of the 10 trucks serving food at the rodeo this weekend and noted that supply chain issues have been among his biggest challenges.
“It’s taking longer for the vendor to route your order,” Gutierrez said. “I’d say it would take like three days to get an order in (before the pandemic). Now it’s taking like a week and a half sometimes.”
Anthony Bachman will have his food trucks which include Cheese Curds and Fried Pickles, Fargo Fillies and Mac Daddy’s at the rodeo. Labor shortage has been more of a challenge for Bachman.
“I’ve got my main core of employees but we need a lot of temporary help too, and that’s been tough. Then the supply chain has definitely been an issue too with getting our baguettes for our phillies, other ingredients and fryer oil,” Bachman said. “Sometimes we get a bunch of applications. Sometimes we get no applications. But even when we get a bunch of applications, getting people to just even come to an interview is a challenge.”
Gutierrez, who brought his food truck to a previous event, said he’s grateful to the people of Dickinson and for their continued support.
“It’s a big thing for the Dickinson community. They’re very important. Every time we go down there we like to take the opportunity if we can to thank them,” he said.
Tables and chairs will be available, but Schmitz encourages people to bring their own lawn chairs.