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If Food Trucks Bring It, They Will Come

Some 1,500 people attended food truck fest Saturday at Town Square Park.

About 1,500 people came to sample the food and desserts at Murrieta's first ever Food Truck Fest.

The Murrieta Food Truck Fest was held from noon to 5 p.m. at Town Square Park, near City Hall, the Police Department and the Senior Center off Jefferson Avenue and Juniper Street.

In addition to live music and bounce houses, there was food, food and more food.

Mayor Doug McAllister—wearing a USC Trojan shirt and well-used cowboy boots —walked happily down the sidewalk, holding a burger cooked to order, topped with grilled shrimp and bacon, two kinds of cheeses and fixings, all on a ciabatta roll.

"I'll be going to the hospital after this," McAllister quipped.

The festival was a great idea, the mayor said, because events like this bring people together as a community.

"Today, we're a small town," he said.

For Jenna and Travis Leonardi—and their 22-month-old daughter Cherylyn—the day's activity of trying different foods in a peaceful parkland setting is one of the reasons they do not regret moving to Murrieta in March.

"We moved here blind," said Jenna Leonardi, adding that her realtor guided her in finding good schools and a good community.

"I haven't regretted it," she said, as hubby chowed down on his Thai chicken wings.

Later, the couple stopped by the shaved ice truck, took a bite at Bitchin' Burgers and could be seen in the general area of The Cupcake Place, perhaps looking for a "Tall, Dark and Handsome," made of chocalate cake filled with chocolate pudding and slathered with chocolate cream cheese frosting.

"I can eat," Travis Leonardi told Patch as he made his way down the truck line.

The Cupcake Place's Mitzi Huff said she got word of the festival from IE Gourmet Food Trucks, a company that rents fully equipped trucks to purveyors of food around the region.

The company also helps the truck operators find events and allows them to advertise, using social media links established by the company; it also has a commercial food prepping facility for use by truck renters.

"We just thought it would be a good function for us to get to know the area," said Huff, who drove down from Riverside, where her store is based.

Currently, Riverside County is the only one in Southern California where food trucks are not permitted to operate. The county has banned the mobile vendors for decades over concerns about public health, Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch recently reported.

However, the county allows food trucks—which are becoming ever popular among families and foodies alike—for special events.

Murrieta was required to obtain a health permit for its premiere event, city Special Events Coordinator Laura Frasso told Patch.

Some 12 trucks served food Saturday; one truck did not pass an onsite inspection from the county health department, Frasso told Patch at the scene.

The generator died, cutting power to the refrigerator and health officials thought it better that the truck pull out of the festival, Frasso said.

Because it was the first such festival, the city contracted with IE Gourmet to bring in the trucks.

However, she is hoping the city can hold another food truck festival in about six months, when the city might possibly get some revenue from sales at the trucks.

If the city does hold another such fest, perhaps Devilicious will return, with its offering of butter poached lobster grilled cheese.

Admission was $10; the proceeds go toward purchasing equipment for the city's Youth Center; there were a number of discounts that had been offered by the city at summertime events and on Facebook, so some people paid $5 or got a "twofer" for $10.

Frasso said items needed for the Youth Center, which is being constructed at California Oaks Sports Park, include a pool table, televisions and video game consoles.

Cathy Neumann-Bearse October 14, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Had a blast! What an awesome event .. hmm maybe we should do another one next year?
Krystina October 14, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Had a blast myself!! Was glad to see that the blow ups for kids were free because that seemed to be a major hit for my niece. Loved the food and the atmosphere. Would love to see this happen again in the future!!
RL October 15, 2012 at 05:22 AM
We came last minute, because we didn't know about it until the day before. Paid the $10 each. We were happy do so since it went to the youth center (we have no children).. however, one improvement would be chairs or tables. It was warm not much shade unless you were part of the VIP, didn't want to really hang out, no place to relax and enjoy.. Had a burger and left. Loved the Food Truck idea for a fundraiser!
Mindy S. October 15, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Did anyone try the beers from Brew-Ligion? We did!! They are amazing!!! We are going to go try the food next, and they said they offer music on Friday & Saturday night? Can't wait to do this again. Great way to give Murrieta some good ole' fashion family time.
john ryerson October 18, 2012 at 01:33 AM
they say that food trucks are banned in riverside county. thats funny i see them all the time in riverside county. why ? because they are allowed to go on private propety when the farmer or housing developers or whoever it may be contracts with them to come service they're employees. i know because i buy from them occasionally.

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