By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Mike Hubert wandered the grounds of the Sea Isle City Food Truck Festival on Sunday afternoon trying to decide what to eat.
“I just don’t know,” Hubert, accompanied by his wife, Kaeg, said in amazement of the array of American and international cuisine being sold.
It was at that point that he had an epicurean epiphany: Why not try a little bit of everything?
“I’ll probably get three or four things to go,” Hubert said. “I’m looking at the roast beef truck, so that is a possibility. There’s also the cheesesteak and burger truck, too. There’s also a crab roll truck. Whatever you have, you can’t go wrong.”
Hubert, a Northfield resident making his first visit to the food truck festival, later settled on a crab cake for his first bite to eat.
Held both in the spring and fall, the festival draws thousands of foodies every year and is becoming one of Sea Isle’s biggest annual attractions. The two-day fall version of the festival wrapped up Sunday. Although the calendar officially says it is still summer, the food truck festival in September is considered a fall event.
Denis Brown, owner of Stallion Marketing LLC, the festival organizer, estimated that nearly 10,000 people attended the event over the weekend.
He credited Sea Isle’s food truck festival for being the first of kind at the Jersey Shore. Now in its sixth year, the festival has inspired a number of similar events in shore towns in Atlantic and Cape May counties.
“Sea Isle was the first to have one,” Brown said.
The festival’s location close to the beach is one of the qualities that make it a favorite stop among food truck fans. Brown noted that the location alone virtually assures a big turnout year after year.
Festival-goers were also pleased Sunday by the quality and variety of the cuisine served up by what are essentially gourmet restaurants on wheels.
“There is such a wide variety of food and treats here,” said Angela Grosso, a Woodbine resident who had her 8-year-old daughter, Ma’kya Coleman, in tow.
Grosso and her daughter had a “smashed” burger as their main meal and were planning to top things off with a vanilla and a chocolate cupcake for dessert. Holding both cupcakes in a plastic container, Ma’kya claimed the chocolate one for herself.
The little girl wore the No. 11 jersey of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. At the same time Ma’kya was getting her cupcakes, the Eagles were playing in the first half of their season opener against the Washington Redskins.
“I think the Eagles are going to win,” she correctly predicted.
Festival-goers were tempted by food trucks bearing such mouth-watering names as Baby Blues BBQ, Beast of the Street, Grubbin’ Gringos, Marie’s Lobster House and House of Cupcakes.
In all, there were 13 or 14 food trucks lining the grounds of Kix McNutley’s, the bar and entertainment complex on 63rd Street and Landis Avenue owned by Sea Isle Mayor Leonard Desiderio. The mayor has become one of the festival’s major supporters.
The Sea Isle City Food Truck Festival has twice been voted one of the 10 best food truck festivals in the country, according to Stallion Marketing.
This year, the festival had hoped to add a new element by offering wine tastings for the first time. The idea was to have patrons sample a selection of vino from New Jersey wineries. Bottles of wine would have been available for sale.
However, Brown said the proper permits were not obtained to have the wine tasting, so it was canceled this weekend. He hopes the wine tasting will be part of future food truck festivals in Sea Isle.
“We’re trying to experiment with different things to help the event expand and grow,” he said.