Kansas Food Truck Festival to return with expanded lineup this weekend

This panoramic file photo from May 2, 2015, shows the second annual Lawrence Food Truck Festival Saturday evening in east Lawrence.

The Kansas Food Truck Festival is slated to return to East Lawrence’s Warehouse Arts District this weekend, bringing with it 30 trucks hawking everything from chicken wings to crème brulee in service of a good cause.

The event, slated for 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, is the largest annual fundraiser for Just Food, the Douglas County food bank. With summer vacation — and a break from daily school meals for the 40 percent of Lawrence Public Schools students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches — on the horizon, the nonprofit will soon face even greater demand from local families in need, said Elizabeth Keever, Just Food’s executive director.

“We see a dramatic increase in our numbers in the summer months, so this event could not be better timing for us as an organization as we head into these difficult summer months for our families,” Keever said.

Keever expects around 4,000 people to attend this weekend’s event, which will also feature live music, kids’ activities, and performances from the buskers of the Lawrence Busker Festival. That’s in addition to the food, of course. This year’s expanded lineup includes local trucks such as Torched Goodness, La Parrilla on Wheels, Drasko’s fusion barbecue and Fine Thyme Foods, among others.

New this year is a partnership between the festival and East Lawrence’s Bon Bon restaurant. Together, organizers and restaurant staffers will host a beer garden near the intersection of Ninth and Pennsylvania streets, as well as a cocktail club. The Bon Bon Cocktail Club, as Keever calls it, will be stationed inside the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St., where guests can sip specialty cocktails, watch the Kentucky Derby (no word yet on whether mint juleps will be served in honor) and participate in a raffle to benefit Just Food.

As of Tuesday, Keever said she didn’t expect tickets to sell out before the event, but with an attendance cap of 4,000 people, she encourages festivalgoers to buy their tickets as soon as possible. They’re available online at www.ksfoodtruckfestival.com, or in person at Just Food, Bon Bon, both Lawrence Hy-Vee locations, Merchants Pub and Plate, the Granada Theater box office and the Phoenix Gallery.

The $10 tickets don’t include the cost of food and drinks, but ATMs will be available on the festival grounds, Keever said. Children under 12 will be admitted to the festival for free.

Since its inception in 2014, the Food Truck Festival has grown from just five trucks to 30, Keever said. Watching the growth of the Lawrence food truck scene alongside that of the festival, Keever said, has been a gratifying experience.

Last year, the event raised more than $41,000. This year, Keever’s hoping for $50,000.

“It’s a lot of fun to see thousands of people in the community supporting Just Food and having a good time,” she said.

For more information on the Kansas Food Truck Festival, including a complete lineup of vendors and an event map, visit www.ksfoodtruckfest.com.