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Buckeroo Drama at Truckeroo

A surprise entrance fee and early closing time prompt grumbles at the last food truck meetup of the year. So what happened?

A “suggested donation” became mandatory at Truckeroo. Photograph courtesy: Truckeroodc.com

The final Truckeroo of the year was held this past Friday at Das Bullpen. And it was not without a few bumps in the road, as evidenced by the open letter posted on the DC Food Truck Association Web site apologizing for a last-minute $1 cover charge at the door. The DCFTA is also sorry about the fact that, due to rainy weather, the event ended hours prior to the advertised midnight closing time. The letter asserts that the truck owners “had absolutely no control over this decision,” clarifying that the event host, Georgetown Events, was responsible for the changes.

“We didn’t want people to feel the food trucks had misled them,” says Kristi Whitfield, the executive director of the DCFTA and owner of the Curbside Cupcakes truck. “We felt a little misled, frankly.”

As in the past, all the advertising promoted the Halloween-themed “Truckerboo” as free. But Georgetown Events, which owns Das Bullpen along with ventures like Jetties, Surfside, and Bayou, publicized a “suggested donation of one buckeroo” to support the nearby Greenleaf Recreation Center. Whitfield and other purveyors were upset when they caught word that guests were being charged at the door, and rumors floated that some visitors without correct change were turned away. (The organizers say they provided change.)

Georgetown Events owner Bo Blair says the suggested donation became mandatory when the first hundred-odd visitors didn’t offer contributions. “We were hoping people would be generous enough to say, ‘I’ll give five dollars!’ I’ll give ten!’” says Blair.  “Not only was that not the case, so many people were such assholes that they didn’t give anything.”

Blair says it was a mistake on his company’s part, and that the wording on flyers should have read “suggested minimum donation” of a dollar. The intent all along was for the event to be a fundraiser. “Bottom line is, if someone doesn’t want to give a dollar for charity, we’d rather they not come,” says Blair.

So how will this impact future Truckeroos? No plans are set, but Blair notes that he’d like to continue Truckeroo as fundraisers and charge a small charitable donation at the door. As for the trucks, Whitfield says DCFTA is looking to do lots of large and small gatherings in the future. Given the entrance-fee drama, will Georgetown Events still be invited to partner with them?

“I’m not saying we would never do it. But only time will tell,” says Whitfield. “We’d have to have assurances that it would be an event we were proud of.”

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