New West food truck fest exceeds expectations

The third annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival was a foodie’s dream come true.

Seventy-three food trucks descended on Columbia Street for the Aug. 22 event, which is considered the largest festival of its kind in Canada. If the estimates are accurate, more people attended the festival than New West’s population.

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“We are very happy with the crowds. We talked to the police on the day of – they felt it was about 90,000,” said Kendra Johnston, executive director of the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association. “It was a sea of people right from four o’clock all the way through.”

Food trucks stretched from Eighth Street almost to the access ramp onto the Pattullo Bridge. Tables were set up along the way so folks could sit down to eat.

“It was a fun day,” Johnston told the Record. “The weather worked out great. Everyone seemed really happy. We have had very little constructive criticism or negative feedback – a few comments about lineups. We tried to prepare people mentally for lineups because we knew lineups were going to happen.”

About 50,000 people attended last year’s festival, and organizers were hoping to attract 75,000 to this year’s event because it had more trucks and more space.

“It definitely exceeded our expectations,” Johnston said. “Geographically we don’t have a lot of room to grow.”

Several downtown businesses provided beer gardens, and buskers, roving performers and Royal City Swing entertained the crowds.

“Anvil Centre did an indoor beer garden,” Johnston noted. “They said it went really well, but they’d like to be out on the street in the middle of the action next year.”

Johnston said the BIA appreciates the work of the New Westminster Police Department, which “really stepped up” as the crowds were larger than what was anticipated.

“We are pretty proud that it’s the largest one-day food truck festival in the country,” she said. “We got a lot of great exposure for that, some really good regional exposure for downtown New West – that’s what we are all about. We are really happy with that.”

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