If you’re heading to a Wright County park in the future, you may see something different as you enter – food trucks.
Food trucks have become increasingly popular because of their mobility and a way for restaurateurs to serve their specialties without the expense of brick-and-mortar buildings. Parks & Recreation Director Marc Mattice said that he has been asked more and more over the last couple of years about the availability of parks and brought the matter to the Wright County Board of Commissioners looking for approval.
“We’ve been getting quite a few inquiries about food truck operations in our parks system,” Mattice said. “We’ve developed a food truck policy and permit application that mirrors a lot of what we do at Beebe Lake or Montissippi or Otsego. They’re in cities, so they have to have city permits as well. This is our permit that allows them to come into places that we’re not selling concessions.”
City permit fees are “hefty,” according to Mattice, so the Parks & Recreation Department permit was set at just $100 and allows the food trucks to access five county parks – Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park, Beebe Lake County Park, Clearwater/Pleasant Regional Park, Montissippi County Park and Otsego County Park. Push carts can access high use areas such as beaches, but not trucks, trailers or motorized vehicles will be allowed outside of designated parking areas laid out in each park.
The annual permits are good for one season – typically from the weekend in May until the last Sunday in September with operation hours between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Permits can be renewed on an annual basis provided that required documentation and permit fees are current.
Mattice added that if an event is being catered, like a wedding or graduation party, they won’t need the food truck permit because they have been hired to feed a specific group.
He added that one of the drivers in recent years have been ice cream trucks, which are popular during summer months in locations that draw crowds like the Wright County parks system does.
“Ice cream trucks have been one of the biggest pushes for us,” Mattice said. “They’re always driving around and want to get in the parks in the summer and sell whatever you sell from an ice cream truck.”
The board asked Mattice to report back at the end of the summer season as to what worked well with the food truck permits and what aspects of the operation might change in future years.
However, given the timing of the approval, Mattice said his department may have to wait until the end of summer 2021 to have a true gauge concerning the food truck operation.
“We may not get a real accurate reflection this year because we’re sitting here at Aug. 18 and they’ll only have about six weeks until the end of the beach season,” Mattice said. “But, it’s an opportunity that a lot of people have asked for and we think it would be good for them and the people in the parks to have them available.”