The crowds lined up for pizza and cookies. They lined up for cowboy burgers and fried pickle burgers. They lined up for cheese steaks and grilled Italian subs.
More than 10,000 people lined up for several hours on Saturday, June 18, for the Food Truck Fight at the Isle Parkway in Bettendorf. It marked the first time the growing festival was held in Bettendorf.
The event, which previously was held in LeClaire, brought together 18 food truck vendors from across the region so foodies could get a vast variety of meals at one location.
“I think we broke downtown Bettendorf,” Bobby Ray Bunch, the event’s owner and organizer, told the QCBJ on June 20 – two days after the Food Truck Fight. “The lines just never slowed down.”
Mr. Bunch added that the crowd was so large that event organizers ran out of wristbands for the beverage tent at 8,500; people were still in line for food trucks at 7:45 p.m. (the event ended at 8 p.m.); and there was never a break in the action.
The Food Truck Fight organizer said such events often have a lull in the crowds in the mid-afternoon between lunch and dinner. But there was no such break this year.
“I was talking to a Bettendorf police officer about that and he asked me “Where’s that lull you were talking about?” Mr. Bunch said.
The event organizer as well as many of the food truck operators offered several reasons behind Saturday’s large crowd. They ranged from the nice weather to the fact the event was held in a shaded area of the Isle Parkway, the region’s pent-up demand for live festivals, and it offered one-stop shopping for a vast array of foods.
Attendees added that many trucks had lines of 15 people deep almost the entire day. Several of the trucks ran out of food before 7 p.m.
“This has just been fabulous,” said Nikki Steffens of Cascade, Iowa, whose Koppes Kreations bakery truck was part of the fun. “There’s just a ton of people here. It’s been busy all day.”
Ms. Steffens was being kept busy selling treats such as cookies, cupcakes, salted caramel (one of the favorites all day), baseball cookies and other cookies with “Best Dad Ever” written on them. That was a favorite for people looking for Father’s Day gifts.
A short distance from the cookies, at least 20 people were in line for a truck advertising “Fresh Wisconsin Deep Fried Cheese Curds.” Other big lines were at the Smokin’ G’s BBQ truck and the Kelley Girls Woodfire Pizza truck. A little before 7 p.m., one of the Kelley Girls workers went through the line of people to offer her apologies and tell them the truck was out of food.
“There wasn’t a minute to sit down or even get a drink of water for eight straight hours. It was crazy,” said Val Kelley, one of the owners, who finally had a chance to relax after the food ran out. “What a day.”
In addition to serving up and enjoying a vast variety of food, the event also was a competition. Food fans got the chance to vote for their favorite meal and truck. Arty’s Ice Cream & Grill of Wilton, Iowa, won that vote. Kelley Girls, of Clinton, Iowa, took second place and Los Primos Mexican Grill, of Davenport, took third place.
“It was just insane all day,” said Sakir Alimoski, an owner of Arty’s. “We had 15 people in line all day.”
Mr. Alimoski added that some of the fan favorites at his truck were the crab rangoon burger, the fried pickle burger and the cowboy burger. But the best-seller on the day was the Wilton dump truck burger that is made of bacon, cheese, onion, cheese curds and chipotle.
Some of the other trucks scheduled to be at the Bettendorf event were: Twisted Eats, Smokin’ G’s BBQ, Just Cheddar, Girl+Food by Cafe, Cedar Valley Fish Market, Mahala Sweet Treats, Pat and Lea’s Cookout, La Flama on Wheels, Here’s the Scoop, Capriotti’s Food Truck and The Sweet Spot QC.
It’s possible those trucks and more will return to Bettendorf next year for another Food Truck Fight. Mr. Bunch said that he is extremely pleased by Saturday’s event and will consider bringing the Food Truck Fight back to the community. “I’m just really, really thrilled with the success of this event,” he added.
In past years, the Food Truck Fight was held in LeClaire and Muscatine. It was also held in Galena, Illinois, on Saturday, June 4.
Since the inaugural event in 2018, the Food Truck Fight has entertained more than 30,000 food truck fans across the country. The event includes live music, beverage tents, bounce houses, and, of course, plenty of food, according to the food truck website.
For more information on the Food Truck Fight, go to foodtruckfight.com.