When I was younger, I prided myself on having a hollow leg and the ability to eat much more than the average man. However, last weekend at The Centennial Market's second annual Food Truck Wars, I finally met my match.
I've written about The Centennial Market a few times, and I've watched it grow in leaps and bounds the last few years. The market is inside the shell of the former Sears Outlet building, a building where I spent much of my childhood. Sears closed this outlet building in 2016 and shortly afterwards The Centennial Market opened in an attempt to save the shopping centre.
The market grew quickly, and the parking lot of the building has become a hub of events throughout the year. One of the biggest events is the annual Food Truck Wars.
Although various types of "food truck wars" have been common in other Canadian cities for decades, Regina didn't have them until last year. The catalyst that caused the Food Truck Wars to begin was the decision of the city to increase food truck permits to $1,680 (from $1,400) per season. Many food trucks couldn't afford that and weren't able to set up in popular places like Wascana Park or City Square Plaza. Because the Food Truck Wars operate on private property, the food trucks don't need a permit to set up shop. This means not only are vendors able to make a profit, but that food trucks from other communities can participate too, like Graham's Grill who came all the way from Duck Lake.
Although I didn't attend the Food Truck Wars last year, I was asked by the event organiser, Chrysta Garner, to be a judge this year. This entailed sitting at a table and having people bring me different dishes of food for three hours. It was a difficult task, but I was up to the challenge. There were six judges in total, with some of them being Winston Chapman from WinstonOneOnOne.com, Dalby from the Regina's Rock Station 104.9 The Wolf and former mayor Pat Fiacco.
Last year's Food Truck Wars had each judge eat a full dish of food from each food truck, but the number of food trucks had doubled this year, so it was decided we would all share. We had to grade the food on presentation, size, flavour and the appearance of the food truck.
In the course of three hours I sampled four poutines, four minidonuts, three hamburgers, two nachos, one taco, one hotdog, one sausage, one perogy, one ice cream sundae, once cup of ice cream, two rolled ice cream and plenty more.
I wish I could say I could eat all that… but I couldn't. After dish number eleven I began to feel sick, and I couldn't touch dish number twelve (which is too bad, since it was Peg's Kitchen and I've always wanted to try her perogies!). I excused myself to go to the bathroom… and to save you the details, I missed dishes thirteen and fourteen.
Thinking back, I don't think it was the food that made me sick. I think I was oblivious to how hot I was, and how little water I was drinking. I still have sunburn from that day, so I think I was suffering from a minor heat stroke. Either way, when I got back, I was happy to walk into dish number fifteen, which was nice, cold, rolled ice cream.
After we were done judging, Garner took our votes and compiled them to make a final decision. About a half hour later, the winners were decided. Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ won third place, Absolute Zero won second place and Sweet Tooth Rolled Ice Cream won first place.
The Food Truck Wars went on for another hour, with the beer gardens and the live entertainment – music by The Milkman's Sons and the Crosby Harle Band – becoming the main event. But, instead, I decided to go home and fall into a food coma.
Although the judges had collectivly chosen their winners, I had some of my own favourites. Along with Sweet Tooth Rolled Ice Cream, I also really enjoyed Bon Burger and their pizza burgers (pepperoni on a burger is something I didn't know I needed) and Tru North Concessions, who had a delicious foot-long hot dog. I also really enjoyed Going With The Grain, who I would argue is the number one underrated food truck at the whole event. I've had their food before, and it is always spectacular.
It's great to see the event growing and becoming more popular, and I was honoured to be chosen to be one of the judges. This year they had fifteen food trucks and over 40 vendors, and I've been told the upcoming one in August will be even bigger.
For those who didn't make it to the event, the complete list of all the food trucks in attendance are:
I have been told my entire life that Winnipeg was just like Regina, but slightly larger. This gave the impression that there wasn't much to see in Winnipeg and that it, along with Regina, were more-or-less "fly over destinations". Since starting my blog, I've learned Regina is an absolutely incredible city so I imagined Winnipeg was the same. I then proceeded to contact Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba to find out the true Winnipeg, and ended up going on a multi-day excursion of their city.
Since a lot of my readers are from Regina and they almost all know somebody heading there for the Banjo Bowl in a couple of days, I thought I'd put this list together. There's a lot more to see there than just Investors Group Field, and the city's history is incredibly fascinating, so I hope you enjoy this list of 100 things about "Canada's Gateway to the West".
Several of these facts are taken from Frank Albo's tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building, but there are many I didn't mention. If you enjoyed them, I encourage buying his book: "The Hermetic Code"
If you follow my blog, you know I love history. History is what makes us who we are today. It defines our accomplishments and highlights our failures. Most importantly, it helps us move forward as a society.
A lot of my focus is Saskatchewan's history, but there's plenty of amazing history to be told in our neighbour province of Alberta too. From First Nations culture, through to early pioneers, the oil boom and the legacy the province today, there is always something to learn about when visiting Alberta.
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.