Parks board approves monthly food truck events

From 4 pm until dark on the first Saturday of each month from May to September, food trucks will be set up at Shields Park in Seymour and live music performances will take place on stage.

This is a new initiative at Seymour proposed by Sno Biz and Neal and Gretchen Rose to the board of the Seymour Department of Parks and Recreation.

At the meeting held at the city hall on Monday, the board of directors approved with a 4-0 vote. Kendra Zumhingst abstained.

“I don’t see anything wrong with that,” said Art Juergens, board member, before making a motion to approve. “I think we’re promoting the park, we get some money from there, and like Chad (Keithley) and Stacy (Findley) said, I think we need to create a fund where we can put money in a couple of things.”

Keithley is the program director of the parks and remodeling department, and Findley is the city’s director of parks.

Each time each food truck is set up for the event to go to the parks department, they will donate $50 or 10% of sales, whichever is greater.

“I think we went to do something to start building what we call a park fund, to get some money to build it where we can do something like get seed money for a baby pool,” Keithley said.

“At the moment, we don’t have much that we’ve received up to our park bond fund,” he said. “I think it’s a way to start showing the community that we’re trying to build our park bond fund to do some of our bigger projects and get some seed money for our matching dollars.”

Findley said there is a difference between the park bond fund and normal operating expenses.

“This is not going to go back into our overall budget,” he said of the money raised from food truck events. “This will be a savings account that will accrue interest, and the Greater Seymour Trust is a 501(c)(3), so whenever we deposit money there, we have different grants that will open us up against a municipality. As a department, for some of these larger projects we need to look at fundraising to fund this account.

Rose said she regularly takes her Sno Biz food truck to food truck events in Bloomington, and these are held in a city park.

He turned to Findley to do something similar at Seymour, as well as live music.

“I thought this was a great idea, but at the same time, how can we get this to do something that will positively impact our department?” said. “I know there is a registration fee at farmers’ markets or food truck events, and so when you approach me, what if the registration fee goes to the benefit of the parks department and we put it into our Seymour park fund and get it like this?” one of our fundraisers?”

Rose had the idea to charge a fee of $75, with $50 or 10% of sales going to the parks department and $25 for live music events.

He also provided a list of food trucks from the municipality and the ministry of health that are allowed to be set up in Seymour.

After that, he spoke to Matt McDonald at This Old Guitar Music Store in Seymour to help organize the stage entertainment. Rose said she and a few other local food truck owners would also help with this.

Rose said there are currently 25 food trucks approved to operate in the city. However, she expects only five or six people to be there each month.

“Half of those will have prior commitments,” he said. “Most of the food trucks are very busy. I know a couple that has already stopped. They’re so busy they don’t buy anything else until the fall, so I guess we’ll be looking at five, six trucks at a time. You won’t be able to get all 25 of them in.

Rose said she chose to do this in the park rather than the farmer’s market parking lot because it has picnic tables and a shelter where people can sit and eat and listen to music, and playgrounds nearby.

Rose said that if the weather is inclement on the first Saturday of each month, they will move the event to the second Saturday. If that doesn’t work either, it will be canceled by next month.

Chairman of the Board Monica Riley said she’s involved in the Seymour District Farmers’ Market and it takes a lot of organization. He expressed concern about the parks department taking on this.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to have one of the suppliers in charge of the setup and everything, and I think there probably needs to be an oversight on the health department stuff, and if you’re going to charge you booth space, because you can’t let some people fail to pay and other people have to pay. ” said.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I think it’s an important project that will require a lot of work from you and your department,” he told Findley.

Findley said it will enable food truck vendors to sign up for events through the parks department’s RecDesk software so they can track who set up and who pays the fee.

“I don’t see this any different from other programs,” he said.

Findley said the parks department also has the staff capacity to stop by events and see which vendors are there.

“If we do this, I will take my own children to it,” he said.

For this to be successful, Juergens said it would need to be promoted, including on social media, radio and newspaper, and asked if security would be needed.

Neal said he would share the information with the Jackson County Visitor Center to include it in the online community calendar, and the city’s public information specialist, Jan Rutherford, said the city and parks department may post the information on their Facebook pages. Also, food truck owners often share information on their social media pages where they will be set up.

“I see no harm in that,” said Juergens. “I think as long as it’s organized, people pay their wages, they have promotions, I’d like to try it.”

Zumhingst said he sees value in food truck events because a few of them like being set up in the farmer’s market parking lot and offer a variety of food options, but the board didn’t have enough information at the end of its discussion. Make an educated decision about the offer.

“I think it’s needed,” he said. “I’m just getting into the business of managing those parks, which is getting a little blurry for me.”