As summers go, it’s been one bereft of the traditional community events that bring residents together. Now, as the season winds down and families begin turning their eyes toward an uncertain school year, the village of Riverside will send it off with some spice.
On Saturday, Aug. 29 from 2 to 6 p.m. everyone is invited to come on down to Centennial Park, Longcommon Road and Forest Avenue in downtown Riverside, for the inaugural Curbside Cuisine food truck event organized by the Riverside Economic Development Commission and the Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation.
“Honestly, all summer we’ve been trying to figure out a way to provide as much as we can to the community,” said Ron Malchiodi, the village’s recreation director, who was instrumental in organizing the pandemic-year revamped Riverside July 4 parade.
“This wasn’t the vision for a food truck event, but it’s the best we can do under the circumstances. We’d like this to become an annual event.”
According to Malchiodi, the event will feature four to six food trucks – he was still nailing down confirmations as of late last week – as well as food tents for two local business, Aunt Diana’s and Empanadus.
As of last week, said Malchiodi, he had food truck confirmations from vendors offering Puerto Rican cuisine, tamales and “decadent desserts.”
The two local food tents will be set up inside Centennial Park itself, said Malchiodi, with the food trucks parked on East Avenue, facing Centennial Park. The event will follow the same distancing guidelines and mask requirements used by the Riverside Farmers Market, which is held at Centennial Park weekly.
There will be hand sanitizer at each station, markings on the pavement will guide social distancing and the event will be a strictly grab-and-go affair. There will be no tables or chairs available in order to discourage people from gathering.
The food truck event idea actually had its origin earlier this year, said Malchiodi, when rules regarding reopening farmers markets were still unclear. Malchiodi said the food trucks were seen as a possible weekly event to replace the farmers market, if those were prohibited.
It turned out the state treated farmers markets as essential businesses, like grocery stores, and the Riverside Farmers Market has been able to operate every week this summer, drawing about 400 people every Wednesday afternoon/evening to Centennial Park.