From April 30 through May 3, more than 50 food trucks and vendors will assemble at the Rio for the Great American Foodie Fest. It’s the first time for the event—at least under that name. But the Las Vegas Foodie Fest (run by the same organization, Red Dragon) has happened twice a year for the past three years. All are the brainchild of Noel Casimiro and partners Art Casimiro, Marc Tolentino and Oliver Tolentino. And while it was born here in Las Vegas, the festival recently expanded to San Diego (hence the name change), with more cities on the horizon.
Food truck gatherings are nothing new. But they tend to be local or regional in nature, with most trucks staying close to their home base. Noel Casimiro says he and his team were inspired by the popularity of food television shows to gather the most talked-about trucks and street vendors from across the country.
“How many people watch TV and see these amazing eats from all over the country that they want to sink their teeth into, but they can’t?” he asks. “They see this awesome restaurant or awesome street purveyor or awesome food truck, but it’s in New York or South Carolina or Michigan. So we thought, how awesome would it be if we put together a food festival that would encompass all of those foods from all around the country that have been featured on the Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel, and bring them to one destination?”
In keeping with that inspiration, the festival concentrates heavily on what Casimiro calls “celebrity” trucks and vendors, those that have been featured on television. Other factors in the selection process include a vendor’s social media following and, finally, how unique the product is. “We want something that’s gonna be fusion,” he says, “something that’s innovative, that no one has ever tried before, like Frach’s Fried Ice Cream or Jogasaki Sushi Burrito.”
For all of those reasons, fans have no qualms about waiting in long lines to sample much of this fare. Casimiro warns that 90-minute waits are commonplace at some of the more popular trucks. Hitting even a fraction of the offerings in a single day is basically impossible. So in addition to single-day passes, the festival also offers four-day passes for just a few dollars more.
Given its continuing success in Las Vegas, and a positive experience in San Diego from March 27-29, Red Dragon plans to export the festival nationwide. They are targeting the Bay Area in August and Phoenix in September. Then in 2016, they plan to roll their trucks into Portland and Seattle. “We’re expanding all across the country,” Casimiro promises. “We want to [eventually] bring in five to six new markets every year.”
Las Vegas, however, will always be home.
Truck Roll Call
White Rabbit Original Filipino Fusion
As seen on Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food and 101 Tastiest Places to Chow Down, and The Food Network’s Outrageous Food.
Middle Feast Food Truck
Winner of Season 5 of The Great Food Truck Race on The Food Network. MiddleFeastFoodTruck.com.
Jogasaki Sushi Burrito
As seen on The Food Network’s Eat Street. JogasakiBurrito.com.
Great American Foodie Fest
April 30-May 3, the Rio.Single-day Tickets $8 in advance, $10 at the gate. Multi-day pass $11 in advance, $13 at the gate. Single-day VIP admission $75 in advance, $85 at the gate. GreatAmericanFoodieFest.com.