Ryan Giannoni admits to being, if nothing else, stubborn.
"I didn't want to cancel it. No way."
That was the answer I got with no hesitation from Ryan when I asked him how tough it was to have to postpone the second Savannah Food Truck Festival as Hurricane Matthew approached our area a couple of weeks ago. The storm was set to reach our area around Oct. 7 and 8. His event was set for Oct. 9.
"I just had this bad feeling Sunday would be a beautiful day and it would have been postponed for nothing," he said.
Click here for Do's original story on the festival.
Truth be told, there were two events I was watching that week. One was the St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival, which was canceled very quickly. The other was the Savannah Food Truck Festival. It took a while. I wondered why. Now I know.
"Anheuser-Busch is a major sponsor of our event," Ryan told me last week. "They held a conference call to discuss their involvement in any number of events up and down the East Coast. They canceled them all."
There was one event out there, however, that hadn't been canceled yet. It was here in Savannah. Long story short, once they realized it was still out there, that one was postponed as well. Yes, you can have a food truck festival without beer, but the trucks were dropping off as well.
"Some trucks canceled and headed inland to protect themselves," he said.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but in this case perfect foresight was required as well. There was a major hurricane headed for our coast. Mandatory evacuations were called in South Carolina before many of us in Georgia even figured out where to find The Weather Channel on TV. Of course, we can now see how devastating even a Category 2 storm can be.
"I didn't want to cancel it. I'm just very passionate about what I do," Ryan said. So passionate that when he was contacted by city officials asking about the availability of food, he went in search of food trucks that would be willing to stay before Matthew and set up at the Savannah Civic Center. He found two. They served emergency personnel until everyone ran out of food.
"We served about 800 meals I think," Ryan said.
We can look back and smile at his disappointment in being forced to postpone Savannah's second major food truck festival. He has probably worked harder and longer to make this a reality than anyone in the area. He put together the first hugely successful event at Emmet Park a few months ago. The community enthusiasm was fantastic. Those are all very good things.
Ultimately, the decision was made to move it down a couple of weeks. Whatever becomes of the Savannah Food Truck Festival down the road will be due in large part to the hard work of Ryan and a few other people. Now we get to enjoy it, anyway. It's this Sunday, Oct. 23, and from everything Ryan has described, it is going to be fantastic.
"We are starting with yoga at 10 a.m.," he says. "We really want to make this an all-day thing. Food will start at 11 a.m."
If you attended the first festival, then you know how large the crowds were. It was great to see everyone turn out in support of the trucks, but truth be told, it was too crowded. I was there. I didn't eat anything. I break out in hives when someone tells me I am going to wait 45 minutes for a hot dog or a chicken wing. I can't tell you how many people approached me and told me they wouldn't wait in those kinds of lines. A lot of them ended up eating on River Street or along Bay Street.
This time around is going to be different. The event is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. (the food portion, at any rate). There will be live music all day long, stuff to entertain the kids and of course, that tractor-trailer full of beer.
"We will have 35 taps running the length of the 18-wheeler," Ryan tells me. "There will be plenty of beer and the best part is, every dime we collect from those beer sales are going to the children's hospital."
The goal this time out is an admittedly ambitious $50,000 for the Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital of Savannah.
"I don't know if we can reach that much first time out, but we are going to try," Ryan said.
From everything he shared about what this event is going to be, it will have been worth the wait. Close to 30 trucks are expected at Daffin Park serving all kinds of food. As I mentioned, there will be free yoga early and music all day long. Local vendors will be set up selling different kinds of crafts and pet-friendly watering stations will keep everyone hydrated and happy. Clearly, this is a pet-friendly event and open to everyone.
Thankfully, we get a re-do on this event. Some events that were canceled ahead of Matthew have run into serious scheduling issues. Not the food truck festival. Do you think Ryan would let that happen? So let's get out there and support them.
See you on TV,