13Food Truck rodeoHope Mills is resuming its successful experience with Food Truck Rodeos this week, hosting the first event of 2018 on Thursday, April 5, in the parking lot behind Town Hall and the Hope Mills Recreation Center at 5770 Rockfish Rd.

The rodeo will be held from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The food truck events were held last year starting in August and continued monthly through November until they were shut down for the winter months.

“It started with us trying to come up with creative ways to bring the community together,’’ said Chancer McLaughlin of the Hope Mills Development and Planning Department.

Since food trucks are popular in towns all over Cumberland County, town leaders developed a plan to help attract them to Hope Mills.

“The main goal was to create an environment that would be supportive of food trucks,’’ McLaughlin said. “We don’t charge any fees for the trucks.’’

McLaughlin said the town also wanted to give them something other than just the lure of a lunchtime crowd. “We felt if we could create a destination or an event out of it, everybody wins,’’ he said. “(If ) we can get people to Hope Mills, more people will come to support the trucks. It’s outdoors, and we facilitate it by putting out lawn chairs and having music.’’

McLaughlin said a Thursday night was chosen to provide a variety of food trucks an evening that wouldn’t conflict with their plans to be at other locations in the county and increase the options available.

“There are so many great ones in Cumberland County, we try to rotate them out,’’ he said. “We are very supportive of the food truck community.’’

This week’s rodeo will follow a traditional structure the town has used in the past. The parking lot behind the recreation center and town hall will be blocked off to allow the food trucks to park and create a pedestrian area for people to visit the different trucks.

The event will feature attractions for children, including free pony rides and bouncy houses.

A DJ will provide music. On some occasions in the past the rodeo has offered live bands, but McLaughlin said a DJ will be used for the first event of 2018.

He’s gotten commitments from six trucks that will appear at this week’s event. They include Fowler’s, formerly the Blind Pig; Babann’s Southern Fried Chicken; R Burger; and California Taco NC.

McLaughlin always tries to have at least two local food trucks taking part. This week’s participants will be A Catered Affair by Chef Glenn and Big T’s.

McLaughlin encourages everyone planning to take part in the rodeo to download the Spokehub app for their smartphones.

“It allows you to chat with people leading up to the event and at the event,’’ McLaughlin said. “We’re trying to get creative with marketing.’’

There’s also an informational aspect to the event, McLaughlin said. Warriors on the Water, an organization that helps rehabilitate wounded warriors by introducing them to kayaking, has made previous appearances at the rodeos. Now that Hope Mills Lake has been restored, McLaughlin said, they will return to this week’s event to share information about their organization.

The Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department will also have a booth at the rodeo, giving out information about upcoming events.

The best thing about most of the activities is everything will be free, McLaughlin said. “The only thing they have to pay for is the food,’’ he said.

“We want something that makes it more conducive to families. As opposed to cooking dinner, you can grab something to eat, sit down and relax in a really nice atmosphere.’’

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