Whitehall officials hope to resume summer celebration of food trucks

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
Amy Danflous of Whitehall receives an order from the Cupzilla food truck during the 2016 Whitehall Food Truck & Fun Fest. Whitehall officials said they hope the event can be held this summer after it was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Whitehall officials are crossing their fingers – and chopsticks – that the city can hold its flagship celebration, the Whitehall Food Truck & Fun Fest, this summer.

The festival is slated for July 31 on South Yearling Road, but beyond that, a lot is left up to guidelines from Franklin County Public Health based on the positivity rate for cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, said Megan Meyer, community-affairs manager for Whitehall.

“It is all subject to change, (but) we are doing all we can to make it happen,” Meyer said.

The event, like almost every festival and fair, was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2019 festival was the seventh annual event and attracted a record number of 25,000 visitors, city officials said last year. They were drawn in part to see country-music singer Lee Brice.

The city is working to bring another nationally known country artist to this year’s Food Truck & Fun Fest, Meyer said.

Although details likely cannot be finalized until much closer to the festival’s scheduled date, several things can be quantified right now, Meyer said.

“There will be in-and-out counts” to manage how many people are in the festival’s boundaries, she said.

It is expected to be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the same hours as the 2019 festival.

The boundaries also will be larger this year to allow for the food trucks to space themselves out, Meyer said.

In 2019, South Yearling was closed between Etna Road and Langley Avenue to accommodate 31 food trucks.

The number of food trucks allowed this year will not be reduced, and the city is asking food trucks to provide advance ordering so customers may arrive at specific times and leave, preventing standing lines, Meyer said.

The presence of a beer garden in front of the stage also is being discussed to prevent the gathering of fans there, she said.

The city will update the status of the festival, patron protocols and food trucks attending at whitehallfoodtruckfest.com.

Discussion for presenting the festival began late last year as part of the city’s budgeting for 2021, Meyer said.

Mayor Kim Maggard said she is hopeful the festival can be staged.

"The citizens of Whitehall deserve fun venues this summer, and I am looking forward to ensuring a safe and fun festival for all," Maggard said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo