Thursday June 29, 2017
It’s officially summer in Vermont and that means outdoor concerts, hikes to waterfalls, and long, languorous days spent enjoying Lake Champlain. With so much to offer right here, one needn’t jettison off on an expensive vacation to have an enriching experience, especially if you live in South Burlington. In addition to city park upgrades and recreation opportunities, 2017 also marks the second year of Bikes and Bites at Veterans Memorial Park.
Director of Recreation and Parks Maggie Leugers is enthusiastic about the summer events, which draw an enthusiastic crowd eager to sample the tasty offerings from a wide variety of food trucks while enjoying music and lawn games in the park. She said, “Events like Bikes and Bites bring community together and provide opportunities that enhance healthy community connections through health and wellness and social equity.”
Last year, the Recreation and Parks team came up with the idea for this event with the thought that it would both showcase the park as more than a host for athletic events and have wide appeal to community members of all ages. With the support of the city, Bikes and Bites was launched with only three dates in order to gauge community interest. At the first, attendance was estimated to be about 350, which is a solid figure, but by the third evening, word had spread in South Burlington and beyond, and attendance skyrocketed to 1,500. As a result of this success, 6 dates have been scheduled for Thursdays this summer: July 6 and 20, August 3, 17, and 31, and September 14 from 5-8 p.m.
South Burlington co-produces the event with Solomon Bayer-Pacht of Farmers and Foragers. The City of South Burlington and its staff manage the event and its activities, while Bayer-Pacht oversees the food trucks. Leugers approached Bayer-Pacht last year after one of the Vermont Mozart Festival concerts at the park where Farmers and Foragers was a vendor. Leugers knew she wanted to make food trucks a part of Bike and Bites and Bayer-Pacht loved the idea and jumped on board.
“What a fantastic success from there!” Leugers said, “The community embraced the concept with gusto as did our city councilors, City Manager Kevin Dorn, and Deputy City Manager Tom Hubbard by giving our department additional funding to help make it happen successfully.”
In addition to the extra dates, this year will also boast a couple of other exciting changes including fifteen food trucks. You read that correctly; thanks to electrical and water upgrades the city authorized for the park, the bites portion of the event was able to expand. Vegan? Pingala has you covered. Need to cool down? Gusto Gelato will be there to satisfy. From barbecue to tacos, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone.
Aside from the food trucks, there will be more lawn game offerings, a sidewalk chalk area, airbrush face painting (there is a charge for this, but all other parts of the evening are free), and music. Three of the evenings will feature live music, while a DJ will provide the tunes for the other three nights.
While biking to the event is not a requirement for attendance, Local Motion will be on hand offering free valet bike parking, so you know your ride will be safe while you enjoy the evening’s festivities.
Alternative modes of transportation are encouraged, but how ever you get to Bike and Bites, connecting with your friends, neighbors, and community is the aim and summer in the park is a perfect way to do just that.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent