WALKER, Mich. — Early Sunday morning, the owners of El Jalapeno, Patty Matters and other food trucks began preparing for the Taste of Halloween Fest event. Dayana Jimenez, manager of El Jalapeno, said they were up at 3 or 4 a.m., cooking food to feed thousands.
However, when the food trucks arrived at Millennium Park, there was nothing but "an empty parking lot."
The event advertised food vendors and trucks, a cash bar, a candy bar, live music, games and a costume contest. When Lauren D'Angelo, owner of Patty Matters food truck entered the park, she said there was not a person, tent or organizer to be seen.
"I’ve been open seven years," said D'Angelo, "And never have I shown up to an event and not had a coordinator of some sort be there."
So, five food trucks and two food tent vendors were ready to serve to an empty parking lot.
"We have employees, and these people depend on a paycheck just like everyone else," said D'Angelo. "If we go home early, someone is losing out on hours, losing out on pay, and we’re taking a loss as a business owner."
The event was put on by a group called Ticket Animals. 13 ON YOUR SIDE has reached out to Ticket Animals for comment on the lack of event, but have not heard back.
Each food vendor also paid to participate in the event. Faced with an expensive loss, D'Angelo reached out to her friend, Chris Freeman, who runs the EatGR social media pages.
Freeman shared posts on Facebook and Instagram, urging people to come support the food trucks.
"Lauren does not panic, so when she said she needed help and on short notice, I knew it was serious," said Freeman. "These guys are all out here for the next several hours with a lot of food. They’re there, they’re ready and their food is pretty good! Go try them!"
Soon, people started showing up to eat. D'Angelo said the large majority of people attending were those responding to the call on social media to support the businesses.
"They wanted to help out the small businesses and make sure our day wasn’t a total loss," said D'Angelo. "And I really appreciate that."
Both Jimenez and D'Angelo said they also have not heard from Ticket Animal since the attempted event. However, they say there were some "promoters" in attendance, who were not part of the organization of the event.
"I think they think they had a successful event," said D'Angelo. "But I don’t think they realize it wasn’t because of them."
Jimenez said they want answers about what happened to Taste of Halloween Fest. However, she thanked the community for being there and showing support.
It was a first-time event, something D'Angelo hopes does not discourage other organizers from trying new and exciting things for West Michigan.
"There’s so many good event promoters and people who put on awesome events in town," said D'Angelo. "It sucks to have someone like this come in and have a total flop, because it affects everyone in the industry, question anyone putting on a first time event. I just don’t think they knew what they were doing, and didn’t have enough to admit it."
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