CINCINNATI -- Members of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation hope the second annual Cincinnati Street Food Festival on Saturday showed people from around Cincinnati that the community is on the move.
The festival was a free event on East McMillan Street between Hemlock and Chatham streets. It featured 17 local food trucks, including Café de Wheels, Fireside Pizza Wagon, Red Sesame and C’est Cheese.
Food trucks are popular in many other large cities, but until 2012 few existed in Cincinnati, said Elizabeth Romero, who co-owns SugarSnap! Truck with business partner Kristy Crouse.
“This is a trend that is just starting to explode in Cincinnati,” Romero said.
SugarSnap! Truck, which offers an assortment of cupcakes, brownies and other sweet treats, was one of about 10 food trucks at the 2012 Cincinnati Street Food Festival. With the popularity of last year’s event and the creation of the Cincinnati Food Truck Association in February, the number of participants in this year's event increased.
Residents of the community hope the popularity of the festival positively affects the perception of Walnut Hills.
"I think the cities perception of this part of town is a little out of date. A lot of people think of it as a crime-ridden neighborhood and it's definitely not anymore," said Laura Davis, Walnut Hills Resident and local business owner.
The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, a nonprofit designed to promote development for the community, hope the festival showcased that reality to the hundreds of people who attended Saturday's celebration of food and the neighborhood.
“There’s a movement right now toward revitalizing urban communities,” said Kevin Wright, executive director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.
Like any organization focused on economic development, members of the foundation face challenges, Wright said. Two of the biggest are the time and effort required to redevelop the area. Community members in Walnut Hills have the commitment required for these investments, though.
“We’ve raised a lot of money to put this (festival) on. The majority (of donations) are small donations from neighborhood businesses,” Wright said.
While it is taking more time to redevelop than some other parts of Cincinnati, there is more community ownership of the effort in Walnut Hills, he said. Because of this, the end result is more representative of the neighborhood.
Roxanne Swift contributed to this report.
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