Tiffany Harelik is the “Sarah Jessica Parker of the Underground Trailer Food Scene” in Austin, Texas according to interviews we’ve read in local media. We have no idea what that means but we had much love for Ms. Parker in her star turn in the old tv series Square Pegs.
Unfortunately Ms. Harelik’s star turn at last year’s disastrous Gypsy Picnic didn’t turn out so well. Jamie Gertz please report to Austin.
If attendance is the sole metric of success then the first edition of the Picnic was a marvel with twenty thousand attendees by some estimates.
Unfortunately, the crowd that showed up found a poorly planned, poorly executed festival with little to offer other than long lines, disgusted patrons and a general mood of ill will towards the event. We rode by to take a gander at the affair and saw little to interest us. Lines stretched towards Buda with folks pawing at the ground as their dogs and children cavorted aimlessly. We have a genetic aversion to standing in line no matter how shiny the pot of gold is at the end of the rainbow so we rolled right on by on our way to our own version of a trailer food party; lunch at El Taco Rico.
Later that evening we checked in online to see if the festival was as big a debacle as it appeared.
Austin’s online food community was in the mood for a lynching. Here are a few tidbits:
Stellawine over on chowhound had this to say: “Whatta friggin’ JOKE…a bad one at that. Wasn’t bad enough that traffic coming from all directions was so bad that it took half an hour to get close enough to realize that there was NO available parking for miles around. Whatta suckers’ game…I walked from Whole Foods on 6th down to Aud Shores, to witness half of the trailers out of food (at 2:30!), with a half hour wait in line at the ones that had food. Great idea, poorly executed”
jwynne2000 over on chowhound: “Yeah, we got there around 12:30 and the place was already in total chaos. We walked in, saw that mess, and walked right back out”
Heyzeus21,chowhound: “Got there around 1pm. Big mistake. Waited in line for 40 minutes to get one item of food, and left not long thereafter.”
Sarah O on the Yelp brought her stroller[!] “Free admission and $3 food lends itself to a mob scene. We took our two kids in a stroller ready to enjoy the festival. The traffic was gridlocked for 5 blocks in every direction and there wasn’t anywhere to park……When we finally made it through the gates, there were probably 1,000 people and 30 lines for food. Each line was hundreds of people long. Some people I asked had been in line for over 2 hours to get a $3 sample of food. There were so many people, it was impossible to navigate a stroller through the crowd.”
Jason R on the Yelp “What Went Wrong:- Waaaay too crowded.
– Much congestion due to dogs and strollers. Here’s a pro tip, leave your 3 dogs and dumptruck-sized strollers at home. Carry your damn kids; its great exercise and maybe they’ll bond with you instead of looking terrified.
– Food lines were excessive (100+ people per cart) and did not move.
– Lack of good traffic and parking management.
– Misleading food offers from the carts (most were actually just selling “samples” of their dishes).
– Poor resupply plan for the carts (many carts had “Out of Stock” on one or more items by 2:30pm, which really sucks when its a 3 item menu).”
We could go on but why bother?
To be fair, we found a few folks on the forums who mentioned that they arrived at the event at the stroke of 11 and got some food, had some fun and fled around noon when the huge hordes of people descended and made the festival a nightmare.
We’re not going either way.
With over a thousand trailers serving delicious food scattered all over Austin, why bother? But, if you’re bound and determined to hit the festival we have a plan of attack for you:
Show up at 10:45 am in a pair of track shoes with three athletic friends with sharp elbows and a no nonsense demeanor.
At 11 am when the gates swing open all y’all run pell mell towards the food trailer that interests you the most.
Run the table on everything they have to offer then meet up at a central spot and wolf your food down as quickly as humanly possible.
Still wearing your track shoes sprint out of the festival, jump in your car and peel rubber out of the parking lot.
Then you can barrel the Taurus back to the house and tell everybody that Gypsy Picnic 2011 was a big success.
Details: Gypsy Picnic is Saturday October 22nd 2011 at Auditorium Shores from 11am -8pm
Admission is free
Children and dogs are welcome but must be kept on leash at all times
Bring all the bottled water you want but leave that flask that lives in your backpocket at the house
No outside food
Some food trailers accept credit, some do not, might be a good idea to quit living like a hobo and stick a couple twenties in your pocket
There is NO PARKING for this festival
If you park in Bouldin Creek you will piss people in Bouldin Creek off