For the first time, Crown Point’s beloved fall tradition, Oktoberfest, partnered with NWI Food Truck Fest to provide a variety of cuisines that were making their first debut in downtown Crown Point.
Oktoberfest, known for its showcasing of Crown Brewery beer, food stands, family activities and live music, added NWI Food Truck Fest to the festivities this year. NWI Food Truck Fest is an organization of food trucks from the Region, Chicago and across the nation that partner together to provide the food truck experience at special events across Northwest Indiana.
Diana Bosse, Director of the City of Crown Point Mayor’s Office of Special Events, said NWI Food Truck Fest brought something new to the table this year.
“It’s something we’re excited about,” Bosse said. “Food trucks have grown in popularity in the last few years.”
Monica Jimenez-Susoreny, founder of NWI Food Truck Fest, said this is also the first time the group has brought their food fest to Lake County.
“This has been an amazing partnership,” she said. “We’ve been wanting to work with Crown Point for a while. We want to end the season showing Lake County that we want to bring food trucks to their area, and what better opportunity than the Crown Point Oktoberfest.”
Jimenez-Susoreny brought with her 12 vendors from the organization, ranging from Southern-style delicacies to authentic Mexican to colorful desserts. NWI Food Truck Fest was founded March 2016 and has grown to a network of 75 food vendors.
“Food trucks bring uniqueness to an event, and a variety of different foods that people normally wouldn’t experience,” she said. “And they’re trying to build more of a presence in Northwest Indiana.”
Bill Hazel, proprietor of Bill’s Grill Mobile BBQ and Festival Guru of NWI Food Truck Fest, debuted his food truck in Crown Point at Oktoberfest. Customers were wowed by his creative take on BBQ, including his pineapple boat stuffed with deep-fried chicken, smoked chicken, rib tips and pulled pork packed in a half-pineapple and drizzled with his wife’s, Jorie Hazel’s, special “2 a.m. BBQ Sauce.”
“So far it’s been great, everyone loves what they’re doing,” Hazel said.
Micheal Wooden, owner of Woody’s Curley Fries, is one of the many food trucks in the group who are trying to get their name out to more foodies. He just began his operation in June of this year.
“It’s been a dream a long time coming,” Wooden said. “This is our first time in the Crown Point square and it’s been an awesome turn out, minus the weather. I’d definitely come out to the square again.”
This was Crown Point’s 10th year of Oktoberfest, complete with its customary hay rides and bounce houses for the kids earlier in the day, and seasonal beers brewed up by Crown Brewing.
“Crown Brewing has been a great partner over the years,” Bosse said. “They’ve been sponsors to Oktoberfest for 10 years now.”
Zack Bryan, General Manager of Crown Brewing, said the business is proud to bring their drafts to the festivities.
“The event helps expose Crown Point and the surrounding communities to craft beer,” Bryan said.
Barb Smvecansky, Crown Brewery Brand Development Manager, said while they got rained out, it was a great experience.
“It’s nice they brought out all of these food trucks,” she said. “It was a great bonus.”
For Frank Hackman, the Oktoberfest is a very special tradition, as he and his friends perform polka every year as the Deutsch-Meisters.
“I love playing for people and celebrating German heritage,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for more than 50 years.”
The Oktoberfest ended early in the afternoon due to heavy rains that continued into the night, however some die-hard Oktoberfest fans huddled in a tent amongst the downpour to enjoy what they could as the event closed down.
“You've got Crown Brewing, a nice local brewery, a bunch of local food trucks,” said Adam Hazlett, who attended with his friends. “They’re all out here selling food and beer. If they’re willing to weather the storm, then we owe it to them to enjoy what they have.”