The first ever Food Truck and Rock Carnival took place this past weekend at Oak Ridge Park in Clark. It was 3 days of rocking bands, delicious food and fun carnival attractions. Entrance to the carnival portion was free all 3 days and tickets were sold for entrance to the rock concert portion as daily or weekend passes.
The carnival area was lined with dozens of food trucks, many based in the Garden State, but some from other areas as well. There was something to delight everyone’s taste buds with foods ranging from exotic meats to vegan ice cream. Being the foodie that I am, I made sure to hit the food trucks early on Saturday afternoon because I was worried they would run out of food. I’ve heard the horror stories of previous food truck events that took place this Summer that had visitors disappointed because they underestimated the size of the crowd and quickly ran out of food.
I am happy to report this was not the case at the Food Truck and Rock Carnival! Aside from the food trucks, they also had the usual carnival fare of funnel cakes, zeppoles and fried Oreos.
The carnival also featured rides and a dunk tank with an obnoxious clown to drown. There were also show tents for wrestling matches, a hypnotist and comedy shows featuring Jersey comedians Rich Voss and Jim Florentine.
Jersey’s own rock radio stations, WDHA 105.5 FM and WRAT 95.9 FM, were broadcasting live all weekend from the carnival. There was also a Carnival Stage showcasing local tribute bands and School of Rock students.
3 beer gardens offering craft beer, wine and mixed drinks were there to quench your thirst, one on the carnival side and 2 on the concert side.
Oak Ridge Park was rocking all weekend with an amazing line up of local bands, 80’s rockers and national acts on 3 stages. Saturday afternoon Bad Case For Bigmouth, an easycore band from Harrison, opened the show. They were followed by Otherwise, Skid Row, Sevendust, Three Days Grace, Fit For Rivals, Puddle of Mudd, Pop Evil, Black Label Society and Slash, who closed out the show Saturday night.
The Birch Hill Stage, named after the now defunct rock club in Old Bridge, featured some local acts and 80’s metal bands. Saturday, Rahway (you guessed it, another Jersey band!) opened the Birch Hill stage followed by Gilby Clark, Edgar Cayce, Faster Pussycat, Stephen Pearcy, Kings X and Kix.
On Sunday, Out Of Bounds opened the show on the Birch Hill stage followed by Ashes of Your Enemy, Graveyard Lovers, Prophet, TT Quick, LA Guns, Lita Ford and Slaughter. I was lucky enough to catch Lita Ford’s set and I must say, she put on an impressive show! Even after all these years, she’s still got it! She was one of my favorites of the whole concert!
Dead Fish Handshake opened the main stages on Sunday followed by Crobot, Like a Storm, Clutch, Anthrax, Stone Temple Pilots, Skillet and Godsmack who closed out the show.
I have to say I was impressed with the scale of this show and the organization of it all. There were some issues with parking because the venue had limited space. However they remedied this by running shuttles from off-site parking as well as Metro Park and Rahway train stations. This was done to avoid putting the burden on local residents by banning parking on residential streets. After all, we want them to be happy so they will allow an event like this in their backyards again right?
Another plus was the port-a-potty situation. Speaking from past festival experiences, you don’t want there to be a shortage of facilities. It’s bad enough that you have to use a rent-a-john because the venue is a field, you want there to be enough so they don’t get nasty. They did a great job by having an abundance of them and they were in good shape for that size crowd over 3 days!
The one constructive criticism I have has to do with the layout. Main Stage 2 was basically right next to the carnival area. The carnival entrance was free, but you had to purchase tickets to the concert. That means that if you were in the carnival you could hear and see the bands on Main Stage 2 for free. Also the hypnotist/comedy tent was only a few yards from this stage, separated only by a food stand and a chain link fence so it was very difficult to hear the shows going on in this tent while a band was playing so close by. Hopefully they can remedy this for any future shows by tweaking the layout a bit.
Overall it was a great experience and I hope they will do this again next year!
Check out all the pictures from our visits to the Food Truck and Rock Festival in Clark:
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