By Emma Castleberry
In its fourth year, the Asheville Food Truck Showdown has outgrown its former home at downtown Asheville’s Masonic Lodge. This year, the free event will be held Saturday, March 25, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at a new location: the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center.
“I realized we needed a much larger space when the downtown parking lot we were using became overly crowded,” says Carey Harnash, the Showdown’s organizer.
This year’s event will offer delicacies from 17 different trucks, up from last year’s 14 participants. There will be some favorites from past years, such as Gypsy Queen Cuisine and Root Down, as well as some trucks that are new to the festival, like Melt Your Heart and Mojo Kitchen and Lounge. A full list of participating trucks can be found at the event’s website.
“I am always on the lookout for new trucks to enter into the competition,” says Harnash. “The most important factor for me is that there is a variety of different foods offered.”
Indeed, there will be something for everyone at the Showdown, from Cajun cuisine to elaborate grilled cheese sandwiches. Harnash is confident that all of the food offered, regardless of style, will be exceptional. “I am trying to break down the old belief or stereotype that good food cannot come from a four-wheeled truck,” he says.
For those looking to sample food from all 17 trucks in a comfortable seated area, a limited-ticket VIP Tasting Experience is available. Each food truck will have the opportunity to win an award in three categories: People’s Choice, decided by general attendees, VIP Taster’s Choice, decided by VIP ticket holders, and Best Overall, decided by a combination of votes and this year’s judges: Stu Helm of Food Fan, Evan Donovan of WLOS and Joe Scully of Chestnut and Corner Kitchen.
There will be a variety of children’s activities available for a nominal charge, including multiple bounce houses, a rock climbing wall and face painting. Throughout the festival, four live bands and a DJ will provide musical entertainment. Hard cider, wine and beer will be available for purchase.
Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and Manna Food Bank will receive a portion of the Showdown’s proceeds. They will be present at the event, along with several other charities, to share information about their missions, as well as collect in-kind and cash donations. Attendees are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for Manna and animal food for Brother Wolf.
The WNC Agriculture Center is located at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road in Fletcher. The event is free to attend. VIP Tastings will be held at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. and tickets start at $35. For more information and to purchase VIP tickets, visit ashevillefoodtruckshowdown.com