Pensacola is about to get its own version of the Hunger Games, but don’t worry: The odds are ever in your favor.
That’s because unlike the smash book series turned blockbuster movie series, these Hunger Games are actually about eating lots of delicious food from some of the area’s most popular food trucks.
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9, Harley-Davidson Pensacola, 6385 Pensacola Blvd., will welcome about a dozen food trucks for the FoodTruck ThrowDown: Hunger Games. Presented by 3-D Eats & Tea, the event, which will raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwest Florida and McArthur Elementary School PTA, is the brainchild of Sean DeSmet, who owns 3-D Eats with his wife, Brooke.
“We’ve had a lot of success with other food truck events and wanted to have more,” DeSmet said, mentioning the Hot Wheels event for Habitat for Humanity as an example. “I always want to help out the food truck community, the guys who get out there in the day-to-day grind, who go out to these areas where a lot of people can’t get out to a restaurant.”
The competition at the Hunger Games event is two-fold, with contests for the trucks and for the diners.
“There will be eating competitions for the fans,” DeSmet said. “People will sign up in different categories, like turkey legs and pizza; our truck is hosting a Philly cheesesteak eating competition. We’re also letting fans choose their favorite food trucks.”
The day’s favorite food truck will take home the Hunger Helm, an airbrushed Harley helmet, as its prize. Winners of the eating competitions will get medals and T-shirts.
DeSmet said Harley-Davidson has become an important partner for this event, donating the space for the event.
“We do a lot of food truck events with Harley-Davidson, and they decided to co-host with us,” he said. “The gave us the property, so that made it a lot less expensive to do it; that brings in more for charity.”
Along with DeSmet’s truck, participating eateries on wheels include Joe’s Caribe, Lonestar Kitchens, Wrighteous Eats, Street Treats, Belly Busters Foodwagon, Twisted and Corny, Chile Lindo, Hip Pocket Deli, I Luv Lemonade, Snow Biz Pensacola, Jordan Valley and Puglies Mexican Cuisine.
“All of the food trucks are on board,” DeSmet said, citing Belly Busters and Street Eats as particularly strong partners in the event. “It’s been great.”
The event will feature more than just an opportunity to feed your face. In the interest of entertaining people while they’re waiting for their food, DeSmet said the emphasis is on “wandering entertainment,” including street magician Rod Cannon. There will also be a kid zone with bounce houses provided by 5 Little Monkeys Inflatables. Door prize raffles and a 50/50 drawing also will take place.
“It’s going to be really nice, with entertainment and great food for the people, and to show off what the food trucks have to offer,” DeSmet said. “We want to showcase what local food trucks can do and raise a little money.”
Proceeds raised from a $ 5 on-site parking fee will go to the charities, as well as the money drawn from registration fees for the food tucks and other vendors, and from sales of Coca-Cola products. DeSmet said he believes it’s important for events like this to give to the community.
“You want to take care of the people who take care of you,” he said. “This has been a great cause for a lot of people. It’s not just about making a dollar. We’re going to have some fun and we hope everyone comes out to support — shop local, eat local and charity local.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwest Florida CEO Paula Shell said her organization is excited to be a part of the event.
“This is what we call a third-party event,” Shell said. “Nonprofits have events called third-party events where other people put on the event and we’re the recipient (of the proceeds). Those are very nice to have. But Sean has really done the work, and we’re just helping through marketing, trying to drive people to the event and volunteers.”
Shell said she’s looking forward to attending and having her first taste of food truck cuisine.
“I’m a newbie to food truck food,” she said. “We’re putting it out to our Bigs and Littles, so it’s our hope that Bigs will bring their Littles that day. We’re looking forward to it.”
Want to go?
WHAT: FoodTruck ThrowDown: Hunger Games
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9
WHERE: Harley-Davidson Pensacola, 6385 Pensacola Blvd.
ADMISSION: $ 5 on-site parking fee
DETAILS: 433-5437, www.facebook.com/FoodTruckThrowDownPensacola