PORTAGE — City officials have agreed to host the NWI Food Truck Festival and are now getting down to the nitty gritty of what could be the largest event held in Portage.
Bill Hazel, a member of the NWI Food Truck Alliance and owner of Bill's Grill BBQ, told the Board of Works on Tuesday the group is bringing the inaugural event to Portage's Founders Square Park, 6300 Central Ave., after it grew too large for the original site in Schererville.
"There has been nothing of this kind — ever," Hazel said, adding 20 food trucks have already signed up to participate.
"The attraction to the event has been somewhat overwhelming," Hazel said. It has been promoted only through social media and The Times Media Co., and over 100,000 people have said they are interested and 6,000 have indicated they will attend, Hazel said. Over 1,100 advance tickets have already been sold.
"It is really climbing," he said.
Mayor James Snyder said he welcomed the event to Portage.
"I am really intrigued right now. We are trying to figure out all of the logistics. We will work together and make it a great event," Snyder said.
Lori Wilkie, director of marketing and development for Portage, said there are several issues to work out before the June 17 event.
"We are going to make sure we are ready," she said. Portage has never hosted an event that organizers believe 30,000 to 40,000 people could attend over the course of the day, she said.
Wilkie said some of the issues to be hammered out are street closures, security, parking, trash and port-a-potties.
They also plan on having a beer garden and other attractions at the park during the festival.
DJ Chef, a "Cutthroat Kitchen" champion from the Food Network, will provide live entertainment, including DJ-ing and live cooking demonstrations. He'll also sell autographed merchandise and meet with VIP ticket holders.