Churchill Square is a beguiling landmark in Edmonton. I think most people would argue that we need a large, open, centrally accessible space in our city, a blank slate that could be transformed into any number of things. It would be hard to argue against the opinion that part of the reason why we have become known as festival city is because of Churchill Square – from mid-June until mid-August, those that wander by will almost surely find some sort of entertainment to capture their attention.
The Works in Churchill Square
That said, for most of the year, Churchill Square still lies frustratingly vacant. City Council has tried to solve this problem, by providing funding to the Edmonton Arts Council to program the Square on a year-round basis. But the difficulty isn’t just about making something – anything – happen, but the stark reality that Churchill is an indomitably large area. And for most festivals without massive installations, staging, or the magnitude to draw hundreds of patrons, it really is a challenging space to animate and encourage a vibrancy that befits Edmonton’s town square.
When Mack and I first approached the City last spring with our idea for a food truck festival, the events planners immediately directed us to Churchill Square. In a way, it made sense – the level, concrete pad was perfect for vehicles, and the concrete staircase on the west side was essentially built-in seating. It’s one of the most transit accessible locations in the city, visible from the street and located in a dense neighbourhood.
But that June, with only seven participating trucks, it just didn’t fit the scope of What the Truck?! at the time. Churchill Square seemed a little too obvious for a venue. Besides, we really loved the pop-up, roving idea of a festival based around mobile vendors, taking advantage of underutilized spaces in Edmonton and demonstrating the possibilities of thinking outside the box.
Our first WTT was located in one of Edmonton’s gems, Beaver Hills House Park
Fast forward fourteen months, and in many ways, we have come a long way – food trucks are on their way to becoming mainstream in Edmonton. The ten trucks that participated in What the Truck?! at Victoria Promenade in August were absolutely mobbed. Then a week later, Food Network’s popular Eat St. came calling, really highlighting that our scene features some trucks that can stand proudly amongst some of North America’s best street eats.
Drift on filming day
So when Mack and I were scouting locations for our final What the Truck?! this season, Churchill Square was at the top of our list. Building on our momentum from Old Strathcona, 104 Street and Victoria Promenade, we think Edmonton’s food trucks are finally ready to take on the Square.
What: What the Truck?!, Edmonton’s food truck extravaganza
When: Saturday, September 8, 2012
Where: Sir Winston Churchill Square
Little Village is one of Edmonton’s newest food trucks
The menu is now up – just make sure you’re not hungry when you peruse it! Hope to see you down at Churchill Square on Saturday!