Rain doesn’t deter crowd from first Food Truck Showdown

By on June 10, 2018

Eric Reece of Outer Banks Brewing Station calls out an order. (Kip Tabb)

June 3 was a great day to remember why the rain jacket had been thrown in the back seat of the car. Intermittent light rain fell, but that didn’t keep a crowd from sampling the first Outer Banks Food Truck Showdown at the Outer Banks Event Site in Nags Head.

Event organizer Mike Dianna of Bearded Face Productions noted, “The parking lots were filled. That’s 500 to 700 cars. We probably had on the upper side of 1,500 people there.”

With so many people ordering from the 11 trucks, sometimes there was a wait, and for some vendors an unexpected problem.

“We actually ran out of product twice. We sold out and had to wait about an hour, then we had to send out for more,” Doug DeSimone, owner of Tubbs Hot Dogs said.

A larger than expected crowd equaled some long lines waiting to order. (Kip Tabb)

As is the case for much of the nation, food trucks are a growing phenomenon. In March, the Dare County Board of Commissioners OK’d a request to allow food trucks to operate on a limited basis.

The trucks can do business only in the parking lots of existing commercial-use buildings, which prohibits them from selling food at parks, vacant lots, along roadsides or beach accesses.

In Nags Head, Tubbs Hot Dogs is one of the few vendors that would qualify as a traditional food truck, serving dogs, sausages and homemade chili at Barnes Street and South Croatan Highway in Nags Head daily.

“It’s the only place I can be. I can’t be on the Beach Road that I’ve been lobbying for. I can’t be at Kitty Hawk or Kill Devil Hills,” DeSimone said.

On the Outer Banks, food trucks have been growing in popularity because they offer restaurants and caterers a way to bring their products to their customers, either at festivals or special events or for a catered affair.

Two dessert trucks were on hand — OBX Yogurt and OBX Sunset Slush — and nine vendors serving everything from Sooey’s Barbecue to Big Daddy’s wood-fired Pizza and coconut shrimp at Sugar Creek.

Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, which sponsored the event, said the focus was on Outer Banks vendors and products.

“We wanted to keep it as local as possible,” he said.

The food trucks were local, as well as beer from the Outer Banks Brewing Station, Lost Colony Brewery, Weeping Radish Northern Outer Banks Brewing and from Ocracoke 1718 Brewing. Wine was from Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg.

There was also music. A signature of Diana’s Bearded Face Productions is using two stages to keep the music moving at all times.

Storm clouds over the beer and wine tent. Although it looks ominous, the rain held off. (Kip Tabb)

Storm clouds over the beer and wine tent. Although it looks ominous, the rain held off. (Kip Tabb)

The kids from the Mustang Music Outreach program were on hand to get things going as the gates opened, with the older kids playing later in the day. Local rock trio the Ramble played a great set with Hampton Roads-based band WoodWork closing out the show.

It was a family-friendly event. There were games for kids. Stilt walkers and  jugglers circulaed through through the crowd.

Portion sizes and prices were reasonable, allowing more samples.

“It was a nice little mix,” Eric Reece of the Outer Banks Brewing Station said. “You had frozen yogurt and slushies, and tuna and sliders.”

The Showdown was the inaugural event.

“I was pretty thrilled with it for a first time experience,” Nettles said. “There are some things we can plan better for the next event.”

The wait for an order did slow the sampling down, and that is something that organizers of the event feel can be addressed.

“We need more food trucks,” Nettles said.

Dianna also felt extending the hours might help. The showdown was scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. With more time to sample the food, he said, people would not all arrive at the same time.

The overall assessment, though, was that in spite of a larger than expected crowd and some long lines, the First Annual Outer Banks Food Truck Showdown was a success.

“I talked to a lot of people, and they thought it was a great event,” Reece said.

The People’s Choice was Fork Et Me Not.

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Does Doug have a food truck now? WOW, I have been eating at his dog stand for years (as I remember he used to serve Manteo as well). We have played pickleball with him, his daughter, and his friends. He always has his doggie with him. I believe he plays in the Nags Head Church Band. “Thanks for the memories”.


Kind of ironic having a food truck showdown in a town that doesn’t allow food trucks!


Ding-Dong, you will be there by yourself if people avoid it because they have to wait and wait in lines while they serve 5 people in 30 minutes. The object is to try the food at several trucks but if you can only get food from 2 in an hours what is the point?

ding dong

You are kidding, right? Limit the items on the trucks menus? How about you just buy groceries at 7-11? The “menu” there is in proportion to what you seem to feel would be an effective “line shortener.” Man, while you are there, buy yourself a…clue!

Sam Carey

The lines were very long. A suggestion would be to limit the number of items on each trucks menu to 4 or 5. One truck had 12 menu selections and just could not keep up . The trucks that had fewer selections had lines but were able to get the food out much quicker.