Homemade rainbow marshmallows toasted into s’mores with a culinary torch.
Apples cut into French fry shapes, coated with cinnamon sugar, dipped in caramel.
Lobster “Doughi” with Old Bay-seasoned doughnuts and brown butter mayonnaise.
Strawberry cheesecake waffle cones with white chocolate.
These are some of the delights at the Barre Food Truck Thursdays in Currier Park this summer. What is also freely available are smiles from folks hungry for community and fun after the isolation of the pandemic and ready for the opportunity to hear live music. Tracie Lewis, executive director of the Barre Partnership, who hosts the event said, “We came up with this idea during the pandemic last year, giving residents a chance to gather safely and also promote our local businesses. Besides owners of restaurants, art vendors and area musicians get a chance to connect with the community.”
The craft vendors and food trucks are often a family endeavor, staffing the kitchens on wheels or setting up tables of hand-made items for sale. Fern Doolen from Owl Moon Artistries and her husband lost their jobs in Pennsylvania because of the pandemic, so they decided to make a bold move — to Vermont. The business was originally what she calls a “side hustle” and is now on the way to success. In the past year, they’ve shipped their art featuring owls and moons to 31 states and have done dozens of events.
“Altered Art” by Cassandra Ferrari is also a family business, using repurposed animal bones, scraps of fabric and paper, shed skins of snakes, and other natural and upcycled materials to fashion one-of-a-kind articles. On display is a journal covered with scraps of leather from chaps, bottle-bead necklaces, and clear druzy embedded in rose-colored resin on a vintage bezel. Their daughter Zoey, behind her own table of originals, says she loves being creative and selling her work. She is an enthusiastic child, clad in unicorn-themed garb. “Barre City is the best school in the world — especially my teacher, Miss Mead,” says Zoey. She enjoys talking to customers and making individual business cards with her colorful creations.
Becci Bresett’s Vermont Maker’s Table is managed by son Weston Pouliot, who jokes that he also serves as the mascot for the business. Sharing the table, Morgan Segit and her husband sell colorful custom stainless-steel tumblers and wooden signs. Both women run Pure Barre Sip and Shop at the VFW Post 790 in East Barre, with the next event scheduled for August 21.
Food trucks are also family businesses. Paquet’s Apple Shack’s wooden kitchen on wheels is staffed by Travis Paquet and his brother Chuck. Near the register sits a donation jar labeled, “College Fund’’ for the four Paquet children. The family also runs a home stand on Towne Hill Road in East Montpelier. Big sellers are the apple fries and the apple bomb, and you can find the apple shack by the scent of fall and cider.
Pastry chef Aria Wood and her little sister Lilli of Double Dip Desserts in Barre honor their Sicilian heritage with the popular cannoli. Children are drawn to the two-toned pink and pastel blue rainbow marshmallows, which Aria carefully toasts into S’mores with a culinary butane torch. Adults are drawn to the massive cinnamon buns topped with Nutella, fresh sliced strawberries, and drizzled with salted caramel.
A specialty of Barre’s Morse Block Deli, owned by chef Stefano Coppola, is the Lobster Doughi, with a quarter pound of Maine lobster served on a doughnut seasoned with Old Bay, and the Middle East-inspired shawarma, meat with a special sauce, or a vegetarian version with hummus, tahini, seeds, sprouts, and veggies.
Other regular vendors include Cornerstone Kitchen, Candy Man, Mo’s Backyard Barbeque, and Fajita Hut. Some of these businesses also sell at the Wednesday farmers market from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Pearl Street in Barre (until August 25). Tracie Lewis posts the week’s offerings every Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the Barre Partnership’s Facebook page.
Food truck fans are a diverse bunch. You’re likely to see Mariah Bach, who rolls a stroller with two kittens, whom she feeds by bottle, with her sister Vanessa Perry with her 1-month-old baby, and niece MacKenzie Perry. All ages and family groups are represented, enjoying conversation about food, music, and fun with their neighbors and with the vendors. There are certainly loyal regulars as well as first-time visitors. Children run around singing songs and chasing each other, teens gather to hang out and talk, and couples pick up dinner so that they do not have to cook.
More people arrive around 6 p.m. every Thursday for the free concert. Lewis says the biggest crowd showed up for the classic rock band from Vermont, Native Tongue, the second week this summer. Other groups scheduled are Jacob Green, One-Man Band (Aug. 12); Elizabeth Renaud (Aug. 19); Chris Martin (Aug. 26); The Bressets (Sept. 2); Imagine That (Sept. 7); The Penny Band (Sept. 16); Michele Fay Band (Sept. 23); and Chris Powers (Sept. 30).
Food Truck Thursdays runs from 4 to 8 p.m. every Thursday until September 30 at Currier Historic District Park on Park Street in Barre, with stately 19th century houses lining the green. Picnic tables from donated funds encourage a meal and music al fresco; other people come for take-out. Many bring chairs, a blanket, and even little tables to enjoy food and conversation. When it’s raining, the trucks and vendors move to the BOR ice arena.
To learn more about the food trucks and Thursday performers, Barre Partnership is on Facebook or online at thebarrepartnership.com.
Linda Radtke lives in Middlesex and is still dreaming about those apple fries…