Fairfield Food Truck Festival returns with live music

FAIRFIELD – This year’s Food Truck Festival for the Library brings an added bonus – live music.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on October 2, at Jennings Beach. It is hosted by Friends of the Fairfield Public Library, the nonprofit fundraising arm of the library, which is partnering with the city this year.

“It allowed us, for the first time, to allow live bands all day long,” said Mike Foley, a member of the Board of Directors for the Friends Group.

Attendees pay a $5 donation to participate in the festival, then pay whatever prices are at the food trucks. Foley said food trucks also pay a small fee to participate.

Participating food trucks this year include Lobster Craft, Droppack, Bubble and Bro T, Finger Linkin’ Chicken and Rice & Beans. The bands that play are School of Rock’s Local All-Star Band, Get Lit, and The Zambonis.

Foley said the board has been active for decades at Fairfield, conducting events such as author talks. But in 2017, the board of directors wanted to start organizing bigger events. He and his wife, Jennifer Butler, joined in and pitched the idea for the Fairfield Food Truck Festival.

He said, “They were like, ‘But what does that have to do with books? ‘I said, ‘Technically nothing, but it brings money.’ They jumped on faith and went with it.”

Foley said they connected the event to library programs, such as introducing a children’s story.

That first year they watched waves of people arrive at the event. He said it raised more than $15,000 that day, with about 5,000 people in attendance.

“It was an instant hit,” he said. “We kind of built from there.”

Since then, Foley said, the event has always been attended by at least 4,000 people.

Foley said he did a balancing act to see how many food trucks to book, but the sweet spot is between 15 and 20. This year he said there will be about 17.

“We’re always on the lookout for new trucks, but we love our returning trucks,” he said. “For example, the Lobster Craft here in Fairfield, they’re back again. We’ve always been very fortunate that food trucks are enjoying the action.”

Foley said the money raised by the event goes directly to the library — which previously paid for things like laptop labs, upgrades to the Teen Center at the Fairfield Woods Library branch and a new public address system for the community room at the main library.

“We collaborate closely with Scott (Jarzombek), our chief librarian,” he said. “We basically ask where they want that money to go. The main thing is that it has to benefit the program. We don’t want to end up buying library chairs or something. You have to support a program that impacts the audience.”

Jarzombek said The Friends of Fairfield Public Library is an incredible group that has done an incredible job for the library, helping to fund programs like the Summer Reading Challenge and promotions at the library and its branches.

“Food Truck Festival and the amazing work done by friends – patrons can see their positive impact every day they walk into our libraries,” he said.

Foley said they were advertising the event extensively, as did the bands that play in it.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “It could be crazy.”

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