Country star Lee Brice won’t be driving your truck, or a food truck, to the Whitehall Food Truck & Fun Fest this year – and neither will anyone else.
The annual event, which landed the Grammy nominee last year en route to record attendance, has been canceled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The fest, first held in 2013, had been set July 25.
“The decision to cancel the 2020 event did not come lightly as it has become a major summertime staple in the Whitehall community, bringing over 30 food trucks, a dozen bands and an estimated 25,000 attendees,” said Megan Meyer, community affairs manager for Whitehall.
But the decision aligns with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s current social-distancing orders to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, “which have uncertain end dates,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the decision to cancel the event before DeWine made clear the length of the current stay-at-home order – which as of April 17 was set to end May 1 – was because of the uncertainty during the planning stages that already were underway.
“There is a huge planning aspect,” she said. “We began soliciting vendors in January and we did not think it fair to them to ask them to commit. We also did not think it appropriate to solicit sponsors.”
Mike Gallicchio, founder and CEO of Mike Gallicchio Now, owns and operates the Columbus Food Truck Festival, the Columbus Fiery Foods Festival and the Columbus Summer Wine Festival, as well as scheduling vendors for the Whitehall Food Truck & Fun Fest.
“It’s a shame, but I understand,” Gallicchio said about the cancellation of Whitehall’s event.
The other food-and-drink events that Gallicchio either owns or manages were “still a go” as of April 17, he said.
The 2020 Columbus Food Truck Festival is scheduled Aug. 14-15 and remains in place, he said.
Meanwhile, food-truck owners are finding other ways to reach customers, including driving into neighborhoods, Gallicchio said.
Whitehall already had booked a headliner for this year’s fest, but Meyer would not identify the act, adding the performer could play the fest next year.
“The city is committed to bringing the event back in 2021,” Meyer said.