TAMPA — Last year in Tampa the Guinness record for "World's Largest Photo Mosaic" was broken; earlier this year Ceviche broke the world record for largest sangria (a really big gulp at 269 gallons). But those are just silly, really, like the world's largest dryer lint or most Stay Puft marshmallows crammed in a MINI Cooper.
By 11 a.m. Saturday, Tampa will boldly claim a new record, one that at least in some circles is serious bragging rights: World's Largest Food Truck Rally. As of this writing, event organizer Jeremy Gomez says 98 food trucks have signed on — that's 36 more than assembled to break the current world record set at Magic City Casino in Miami in April.
Food truck fever has swept the country in the past several years but came fairly late to the Tampa Bay area, gaining public attention toward the end of 2011. Since then, nearly 100 trucks have come and gone from city streets, assembling regularly at rallies such as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's monthly Food Truck Fiesta at Lykes Gaslight Square Park.
In fact, Mayor Buckhorn gets the record-stomping rally under way Saturday morning by ringing the ceremonial dinner bell at 8:45 a.m. near Cass Street and Nebraska Avenue in Tampa before the assembled trucks begin a 2-mile parade (the caravan is part of the official record) to the Florida State Fairgrounds where they will open for business by 11 a.m.
In addition to Tampa's most veteran trucks such as Wicked 'Wiches, trucks will travel from far afield to be part of the festivities: Bem Bom Food Truck brings its Portuguese cuisine from Orlando, Happy Belly Food Truck zips down from Atlanta and Feelin' Saucy brings its homey Italian fare (luscious eggplant parm) from Sarasota. There will be stunt food (bacon-wrapped deep-fried hotdogs and Gomez's own truck, Not Your Ordinary Food Truck's kangaroo on a stick) as well as 20 bands on two stages and many family-friendly activities.
Feeding America Tampa Bay will be on site to collect non-perishable donations that will go directly to local families in need.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.