For a place beyond the suburbs of a major urban center, the Hudson Valley has a remarkable food culture. With the Culinary Institute of America, an abundance of farmers’ markets and restaurants hidden in even the most rural reaches, it’s a good place to eat. What some locals may not realize, however, is that it’s also the location of a fleet of food trucks, many of which are affiliated with the Hudson Valley Food Truck Organization.
It’s “not an official organization,” says Pierre-Luc Moeys, founder of the group and owner of Lekker (a Dutch word for “delicious”) in Stone Ridge. Rather, he says, the Facebook page serves as “a forum for food trucks and for people who want to know what we are up to.” When Moeys had the idea for the page in 2012, his friend Mark Roper of ’Cue BBQ wanted to help. Since then, the group has grown and, says Moeys, “every year we get more trucks. It’s finally caught on.”
Moeys believes that food trucks benefit both the sellers and the consumers. “I think what most people say is that it’s a lot cheaper,” he says, referring both to the lower costs of operating a food truck and the generally less-expensive food that they offer. He describes the trucks as a “one-man show” with flexible menus and locations.
Not all of the food trucks are standalone businesses, however. Moeys notes that some of them – like Lekker and ’Cue – have “brick-and-mortar” establishments. For the restaurants, the trucks function as “a sort of mobile advertisement. We do a lot of festivals, a lot of weddings.”
Among those festivals is the organization’s own Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival. This year, the Festival is taking place every third Thursday of the month through October outside the Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties. The core group of trucks consists of ’Cue, Lekker, Slidin Dirty, Kona Ice, Black Eyed Suzie’s, Pippy’s Hotdog Truck and Black Forest Flammkuchen, but there are always more in attendance. “We invite food trucks that we know,” says Moeys. They also take applications, but try to avoid having too much of the same item. For participating trucks, “There’s a minimal fee that goes straight to the performers.”
Those performers include a unique musician for each festival, as well as local band Mister Roper and Miss 360, a hula-hooping entertainer who Moeys says is always surrounded by a group of 30 to 40 kids learning how to hoop. The field also has a playground, helping to make the festival a family-friendly event. It’s not just for families, though, and the beer garden stocked with local microbrews makes it an appealing casual hangout.
“We started the fest with the idea that nobody does anything on Thursdays…. Weekends are so busy,” Moeys says, referring to the bustle of tourists visiting the Hudson Valley in the summer. The Festival, by contrast, is “a community-minded event that’s more for the locals.” It’s a way for people to “fill up an empty night,” says Moeys, with music, good food and time spent with friends.
The next Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival will take place on Thursday, July 21, near the Kiwanis Ice Arena at Cantine Field in Saugerties. Kyle Esposito and the Backburners will perform.
Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival, third Thursday of the month, May-October, 4-9:30 p.m., Kiwanis Ice Arena, Cantine Field, 6 Small World Avenue, Saugerties; www.facebook.com/hvfoodtrucks. The next Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival will take place on Thursday, July 21, next to the Kiwanis Ice Arena at Cantine Field in Saugerties. Kyle Esposito and the Backburners will perform.