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‘People will discover something new here’: Variety of mobile fare to descend on Farm Museum for Food Truck Sunday Funday

Stephan Beauchesne didn’t know it at the time, but when he bought a food trailer, back in the fall of 2019, he had an edge over other businesses when it came to a pandemic scenario.

“I didn’t have your typical restaurant, which really depends on foot traffic,” he said. “We’re able to go where the people are.”

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Some food truck and trailer owners say they thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most businesses were struggling to stay afloat. Residential and community associations would reach out to Beauchesne, and soon the demand was so high he had to get a second food truck.

Food trucks were a safe option for those wanting a snippet of normality, who missed the ritual of dining out. As Beauchesne and other food truck owners parked in big outdoor areas, customers could social distance very easily and enjoy each other’s company as long as the weather permitted.

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Now, as the state COVID-19 positivity rate falls below 1% and half the population is fully vaccinated, food truck festivals are returning. For Carroll County Farm Museum, that’s an opportunity for bringing back the Food Truck Sunday Funday.

The annual event, which began in 2016, was canceled last year due to the pandemic. It is set for Sunday, June 13 from noon to 5 p.m. and will be the Farm Museum’s first large event since coronavirus pandemic restrictions were lifted, manager Joanne Morvay Weant said.

There will be 18 food trucks, one brewery and two additional drinks vendors on site. The event will also feature the debut of the Carroll County Health Department’s Health on Wheels RV, which will be there offering COVID-19 vaccinations.

Cooper Hurley, of Mount Airy, serves up a hot dog from his family's Cryin' Johnnies hot dog cart at the 2018 Food Truck Sunday Funday at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. This year's event is set for Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Farm Museum.
Cooper Hurley, of Mount Airy, serves up a hot dog from his family's Cryin' Johnnies hot dog cart at the 2018 Food Truck Sunday Funday at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. This year's event is set for Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Farm Museum. (Alan White / For Carroll County Times)

When the Farm Museum was planning the event, it was unknown which COVID-19 restrictions would still be in place, she said. The event will be scaled back this year, she said, featuring mainly food trucks and children’s crafts activities and collecting non-perishable goods for the Westminster Rescue Mission.

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On Sunday, Beauchesne hopes to introduce Carroll countians to authentic cheesy, gravy-filled fries, the poutines.

“I think people will discover something new here, and I think they’ll enjoy it,” he said.

It comes down to the cheese, Beauchesne said. He and the rest of the team spent months perfecting the cheese recipe down to what he grew up eating in Montreal.

But despite what the name suggests, Pop-Up Poutines will also offer other French Canadian delicacies to Carroll countians. Some of these come from his family recipes, like the pork sausage roll. It will be the pop-up’s debut at the event.

For those who want to (bacon on a) stick to what they know, Josh Distenfeld says he and the rest of the JD’s House of Bacon crew will be ready to serve.

Prior to the pandemic, JD’s House of Bacon was mainly a festival truck. They only sold bacon on a stick, usually driving to events with up to 50,000 people. But when COVID-19 washed over the United States, taking with it these festivals, Josh and the rest of the team had to rebrand themselves into a local, family neighborhood food truck.

Some of his favorite places to go were firehouses, where JD’s House of Bacon would feed tons of families in fundraisers for fire departments. These families, as they inquire about what Distenfeld had to offer, inspired him to expand his food to a light barbecue menu: pulled pork sandwiches, tater tots, mac and cheese, and the Baltimore staple “Polock Johnny.”

“That went off like fireworks,” Distenfeld said.

For Father Leo Patalinghug, founder of Plating Grace, starting a food truck business amid the pandemic was an opportunity to further his organization’s mission to help those in need. And to do so, primarily, through food.

The idea is to be able to go where those experiencing homelessness are, and offer them “international comfort food.” The menu includes flour quesadillas and noodle stir-fry.

As a Catholic priest, Patalinghug has done missionary work across the world, he said. No matter which continent he was, he would find himself drawn to humble and homey food.

“What we’re trying to do is not only give people access to great food, but also experiences where they can feel safe and comfortable,” he said.

The truck, which Patalinghug calls a social enterprise, also works with formerly incarcerated people, providing them with training and job information.

The Plating Grace and Grub food truck officially launched on June 1. The Carroll County Food Truck Sunday Funday will be the first large event for Plating Grace and Grub, Patalinghug said.

The N.C. Ribs on Wheels will also be returning to Carroll County this weekend. And it will be one of their first events since late 2019, food truck owner Angus Thompson said. It felt too risky for him to continue to operate the truck during the pandemic. Thompson feared he or his wife may contract COVID-19.

It felt a little strange to be back on the truck after so long, he said. As he prepared and served smoked ribs, chicken and turkey, in a festival in Vienna, Va., with about 25,000 people, he felt sore.

“I need more practice,” he said. “Hopefully I get plenty of this year.”

The N.C. Ribs on Wheels is used to having a lot on their plate. They are often invited to “Rolling loud,” the largest rap concert festival in Miami, and a three- to four-day St. Patrick’s Day festival in Savannah, Georgia.

The Sunday Funday’s crowd is a bit more modest, with normally about 6,000 people coming and going. Still, Thompson beams with pride when a customer is happy with the food and say that they never had anything like that before.

Beauchesne agrees. It’s when Beauchesnes sees a smile on people’s faces, after biting into a fry and feeling all the homely favors of the Canadian classic, that he remembers why he is in the food truck business.

“It’s to be able to share a little bit of what I grew up with to the DC area,” he said.

These are among the food trucks scheduled to attend: Bebo Mac & Cheese, Chesapeake Food Works, Chessie’s Food Works, Crossroads Bistro, Cryin’ Johnnies, Have a Ball, JDs House of Bacon, NC Ribs, Plating Grace & Grub, Pop-Up Poutine, Smoke Rattle & Roll, Stone House Cakery, The Cow, The Sprinkled Cow, Ruhlman Brewery.

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