Sep. 18—LUMBERTON — Many changes will set Lumberton's second Food Truck Festival apart from the first, but what will remain the same is the eclectic variety of food hitting the palates of the people who attend.
Probably the biggest change for the event set to occur Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the location: the parking lot of Biggs Park Mall on Elm Street in Lumberton. The event originally was planned to be held at Lumberton Downtown Plaza but city officials cancelled all mass events held on city-owned property, like the Labor Day Yard Sale and End of Summer Celebration, because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was a good move. It's not something I planned to do two weeks before the festival but I didn't have a choice," said Justin Herring, festival coordinator and owner of Top That Dessert Bar in Lumberton.
This year's event will be "bigger and better" than the last, which drew crowds "larger than Lumberton's population," Herring said.
"I'm super, super grateful that the Biggs opened up Biggs Park Mall," Herring said. "They've been super, super, super helpful."
The mall will "absolutely" be the permanent new home for the Food Truck Festival, which Herring hopes to hold in the spring and fall of each year.
Eighteen trucks are set to park at the Food Truck Festival, six more than the festival that took place April 25 in downtown Lumberton. Among the trucks expected to be part of the festival are two offering Jamaican cuisine, one offering Indian and one Greek. New this year are Sweet Frog, offering frozen yogurt; xQuisito, offering a variety of international dishes; and The Pineapple Plug, which will serve all of their meals in a pineapple bowl.
"It's a bit more broad than last time," Herring said.
Momma Nem's, Z's ZarBQ & Turgerz and Friendly Tacos also are scheduled to be at the festival.
"I don't do the simple collard wraps and things like that, however, I wasn't expecting so many tourists to come (to the last event). I had people that reached out to me from Florida. I had some people that were visiting from California and actually visited their family the same weekend so they could attend the festival. There were people from everywhere," Herring said.
Because of the tourist draw Herring felt it was his duty to not only expose Robeson County to international food but also introduce tourists to Robeson County staples.
"So we will have a vendor that sells (collard) wraps," Herring said.
Many Robeson County residents can get complacent and hesitant to step outside of the culinary box, he said.
"It was my number one goal to brings many things, bring Indian food, and Japanese food other than Miyabi and Kami, bring Venezuelan food," Herring said. "Many foods that Robeson County has never heard of much less tried."
In addition to food, 30 craft vendors will be at the mall and live entertainment will take the stage, including artist Infinity Sioné and Jamieson performing 30-minute sets. Hip hop group B.A.D. will headline, with a set from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"I think it's going to be great. It just gives a local group a chance to just publicize what they do. I think it's going to be great," he said.
DJ Uneek will be spinning beats throughout the afternoon.
Again, Herring hopes the festival will serve as a reprieve from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My philosophy is you can't just stop your life. You just have to be cautious of what you do — keep your 6 feet, wear your mask. I think it's important to live. You only have one life," he said.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.