File photo: Maria Piedrabuena

Thousands attended the first-ever Flanders Food Truck Festival this weekend, a fundraising event featuring a variety of food trucks, kids activities and family entertaining.

Sponsored and organized by the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, the festival was held at the grounds of the Truth Community Church on Bell Avenue and, thanks to Facebook, attracted visitors from New York to Montauk.

“I looked at the event list and saw this. I love food so we decided to come and celebrate,” said West Babylon resident Latoya Harrison.

“This is very positive for the community. It shows we are rallying together and to have people come out and visit us is a wonderful thing,” said Sarah Floege, EMT, ex-board member, helper and driver at the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance.

FRNCA president Ron Fisher said that, despite some initial hiccups, attendance— estimated at over 2,500 people according the latest tallies — exceeded their expectations by far, making the event an unquestionable success. This will most likely make this festival a repeat for next year, according to the organizers.

“They should do this every year, something local for this area,” said Juan Ruiz, owner and chef of Aji Authentic Mexican Food truck.

“It is really important to have an event like this, something that is Riverside-home grown” said Tijuana Fulford, founder of The Butterfly Effect Project a non-profit organization that looks to empower young girls from the Riverhead and Flanders area.

On Friday, the first day of the festival, at least five hundred people attended, twice as much as expected, which caused some food trucks to run out of food by 7 p.m.

“The sales have been incredible. On Friday we ran out of food and then on Saturday it was even worse, we had to go and buy supplies to locals stores to replenish and keep on going,” said Ruiz.

Despite the shortage of food by late evening on the first two days of the festival, food truck chefs were creative and resourceful and the lines didn’t diminish. Attendees were able to try an array of delicious dishes, from Puerto Rican empanadas and Italian braciole to organic burgers, gourmet fries, zeppole and authentic Mexican tacos.

Other activities included hiking tours organized by the Southampton Trails Preservation Society, Can You Escape Long Island experiences and for kids, a bouncy house, face-painting and rock climbing wall sponsored by the East Hampton YMCA.

“Flanders like many other communities on the East End of Long Island want to continue to do things where everybody can break bread, laugh and giggle and be together. This is about community and fellowship and this event had a great turnout,” said Executive Director of YMCA East Hampton Recreational Center Glenn Vickers III.

Admission for the event was a $5 suggested donation and Fisher said that they were hoping they were able to raise $5,000.

“Everything that is donated to FRNCA is non-designated and it goes back into the community 100 percent, nowhere else,” said Barbara Swislosky, FRNCA general member.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Maria Piedrabuena

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