Wilton will feed its collective belly, as Trackside Teen Center will feed its financial need, all with the 2nd Annual Wilton Food Truck Festival, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17. The community event has quickly become one of the organizations largest fundraisers, something organizers say is especially needed to help with center’s financial challenges and a severe budget deficit.

Up to 20 food trucks will return to Miller-Driscoll School on Aug. 17 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; in addition to a wide variety of meals on wheels, the event will feature local musicians, kid friendly entertainment and over a dozen vendors to delight and entertain attendees throughout the day.

Trackside Teen Center, as a private non-profit, is the uniquely valuable place for Wilton teens. The center provides free drop-in hours after school and runs a number of programs ranging from arts to improv, gaming to self-esteem development for pre- teens and teens in grades 612. As a safe place that is not home, and not school, organization official call Trackside the ‘in-between’–where pre-teens and teens can come to socialize, explore new interests, meet new friends and most importantly just be themselves in a supervised environment.

“There is no doubt that Trackside is important to our teens,” says the center’s development and operations director, Cindy Moser, “for as one recently shared with us that, ‘Trackside is heaven on earth.'”

Trackside Teen Center is one of the few teen centers in Fairfield County, and will be celebrating the unique achievement of being open for 15 years this Fall–something members of the Trackside Board of Directors say they could not do it without the ongoing support of community members and businesses.

Budget Challenges

Wilton’s nonprofit teen center in Wilton is looking at this Wilton Food Truck community event to help mitigate their severe budget deficit–something officials say is somewhat unexpected.

Trackside, as a private non-profit relies on funding and revenue from multiple sources to remain operational. While center leaders are striving to become self-sustaining through community support and revenue-generating activities, Trackside still does rely on the Town of Wilton as its largest single contributor each year.

Officials point to two main factors as a cause of the deficit–an acceleration in funding cuts from the town and two leadership circle donors who unexpectedly did not donate this past year, which together accounted for approximately half of the overall shortfall.

Trackside was further challenged over the past year with a number of internal staffing and Board of Directors changes that left the organization with depleted resources across the board and unable to identify and engage in the significant increase in the number of fundraising campaigns and revenue generating activities that might have closed the shortfall.

There were positive signs, though. One key revenue generator that successfully reduced last year’s shortfall was an increase in rental events as Trackside’s popularity and appeal as an affordable and flexible event space has grown. The staff and volunteers have focused energy on updating the appearance and amenities to appeal to a wide variety of events, such as banquets, receptions, seminars, corporate off-sites, birthday parties (bar/bat mitzvahs and Sweet 16s), and religious and family parties for all ages.

As they move into the next fiscal year, Trackside officials say they will continue to focus on generating much needed revenue to support the center’s programs and mission. They hope to further grow as an event space while simultaneously expanding their fundraising efforts through three to four additional community building events and new sponsorship opportunities for local businesses and individuals.

One example of where Trackside has needs comes in a social media post made yesterday by program director John Priest.

The Food Truck Festival is something organizers look to for a much-needed financial boost.

“Last year, we had over 600 cars with an estimated 1,500-2,000 attendees on a cool day at the end of October,” Moser says. “This year, we are anticipating a larger turnout and  looking to generate even better attendance to help with our budget challenges and ensure we can continue to offer great and meaningful programs for our teens.”

Food Truck Festival Details

For this year’s Food Truck Festival, 19 food trucks are already registered to attend with more potential participating trucks registering (*Wilton businesses indicated with an asterisk; see Trackside’s website for an updated list):

  1. Fork in the Road
  2. Greek Style Grill
  3. Taste of Grill
  4. SWAT (Southern Wings & Things)
  5. Bubble & Brew*
  6. Kona Ice
  7. Bumski’s (Beer, Wine and Tito’s)
  8. Pierogies on Wheels
  9. College Creamery*
  10. Fire and Rice
  11. Crazy Taco Mex
  12. Mamoun’s Falafel On Wheels
  13. Claypot Chef
  14. Proof Pizza
  15. Smokin Bandits BBQ*
  16. NoRa Cupcakes
  17. An EP Experience
  18. Carmela’s Italian Kitchen
  19. Oak Haven Mobile

Vendors include:

  1. The Painted Cookie
  2. Sweet Pea Farm*
  3. Teach Art 2 Me (Face Painting & More)
  4. 40hourARTweek* (Artist Niki Key)
  5. Paparazzi Accessories (Karen Burke)
  6. Little Red Pennies
  7. Emmy Starr Designs*
  8. My One Creation (Heather Towner)
  9. Megan Bray
  10. Orange Theory Fitness
  11. Westside Jerky
  12. Old Tyme Toys
  13. SSDS Martial Arts of Wilton*

The sponsors to date for this year’s event include GOOD Morning Wilton95.9 The Fox, Fairfield County Portables and Paul’s Prosperous Printing.

Admission at event is $10 per car which can be paid upon arrival at the event. Volunteers are also being sought to help make the day a success.

For more information, on the Wilton Food Truck community event or to apply to participate or volunteer, visit Trackside online. More information on making donations, volunteering and rental inquiries can be made on the website as well.