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roseburg 4This week we are happily exploring the Umpqua Valley wine region of Oregon which is anchored by the town of Roseburg. For the 4th of July we decided to hang with the locals and attend their first annual The Great Umpqua Food Truck Competition.

Now Roseburg is not in the middle of nowhere. It’s only 45 minutes from Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast, 75 minutes from Eugene, 3 hours from Portland and it’s bisected by Interstate 5, the main freeway linking Washington State, Oregon and California; and it’s a gateway to the Cascade mountains in the east. But although it’s a bustling little burg its population is only about 21,000. The surrounding area is populated but rural. I would imagine the local demand for food trucks is not large.

Nevertheless, someone decided to hold a food truck competition at the fairgrounds with free admission to the public, I suppose hoping the hordes of Portland trucks would come down state.

The result? I heard one organizer comment there were 22,000 visitors expected and I counted only about 25 food trucks, minimally staffed. You do the math. Trucks running out of food and 45 minutes in line in the hot sun to get anything that looked halfway interesting.

1 1/2 hours into a 5 or 6 hour event, the first truck we stopped at was out of duck empanadas. I decided to go elsewhere for a Peruvian Saltado because the line was partly in the shade. After 20 minutes with the line not moving, they announced they still had 6 orders to work on and no new orders would be taken for 15 minutes. This is supposed to be fast food. I walked.

I did get to try this little gem.roseburg 1

Called a “hot pork sundae”, the bottom of the cup is pulled pork in a cheesy gravy surrounded by green beans, topped with mashed potatoes with a cherry tomato on top. Clever packaging but quite disgusting. No wonder the line was short.

I didn’t go away hungry.

The mushroom croquettes were tasty if oversauced; so were the esquites and there was one efficient barbecue operation selling good tri tip.

But a lot of sunburn for little reward.

I’m pretty sure I know how this happened. The promoters said we’ll get lots of people. The food trucks said, eh, probably not. We can’t staff up and stock up if you can’t guarantee the numbers.

The bottom line is good advertising and poor execution is a disaster waiting to happen.

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