Giant Food Truck Fest: Columbia StrEAT 2016 in New Westminster

By Kristi Alexandra

Quickly reclaiming its reputation as an epicurean locale, New Westminster is set to host North America’s largest food truck fest.

Hosting 90 food trucks, 24 shaded patios and six beer gardens, the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest promises to dish out a full-day of chow, drinks and entertainment in the heart of New Westminster’s downtown area.

Playing on its tongue-twister of a title and the nature of the foodie affair, the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest is operating under the tagline, “it’s a mouthful,” which will also serve as the event’s social media hashtag #itsamouthful.

Now in its fourth iteration, this year’s event cordons off Columbia Street on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 4 to 10 p.m. — and it’s as big as it can possibly get.

“This year we’re at 90 [trucks], and it’s basically only because that’s as big as the street is. There wasn’t anywhere else to expand this year,” says Angie Whitfield, the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association’s programs and events manager.

Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest
Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest

Paying a return visit to the street fest are classic mobile eateries such as Tacofino, Vij’s Railway Express, and Johnny’s Pops. Those looking for something new can do some culinary discovery with first-time food trucks Say Hello Sweets and El Cartel.

In addition to the mobile eateries invited to the fest, tents and patios from local businesses will be setting up shop along the street.

“There’s a lot of really great new spots opening [in New Westminster] and it’s slowly becoming quite a foodie destination,” Whitfield says, giving a nod to the award-winning chefs and restaurants that now dot the downtown core.

Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest
Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest

“We’ve got some great new restaurants that are attracting people to the area.”

Complementing the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival is an independently-running event inside the Anvil Centre, as well as the Saturday Royal City Farmer’s Market at Tipperary Park. The Arts Council of New West will be kicking in entertainment for the day, with performances by local artists and interactive tents.

But the biggest entertainment draw of all may just be the most quintessentially Canadian event of the year: a live-streaming of The Tragically Hip’s final concert.

Image by Andy & Lynn Photography, courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest
Image by Andy & Lynn Photography, courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest

“This whole time we’ve been looking for an anchor down at the end of Columbia to try and find something really unique that will draw people to the far end to spread the crowds out,” Whitfield explains, noting the show will air via CBC with national rights from the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Every year, we’re always asking ourselves, ‘What’s the next best thing?’ If there’s beer gardens, food trucks and The Hip, and now the big foodies of the world are noticing, [then] we’re on people’s radar.”

The Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest takes place on Saturday August 20, 2016 from 4 to 10 p.m.