Food Truck Fest returns in April

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Restaurants on wheels will be parked across several lots in downtown Chambersburg, ready to serve fresh, local food during the Spring Food Truck Fest.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 18, at least 15 vendors will offer an assortment of cuisine and beer.

The owners of Lizzy’s and Rollz on Wheelz Filipino Cuisine hope to face the long lines of hungry patrons that they saw at the inaugural food truck festival in late October 2020, even though that day was cold, windy and rainy.

“It was such a great turnout,” said Michael Thorne, who owns Lizzy’s in Greencastle, Pa., with his wife, Emily. “Round two will be even better.”

Downtown Chambersburg Inc. President Sam Thrush said the fact that customers were willing to wait so long for food at the October festival shows their devotion.

“People are loyal to their food trucks,” Thrush said.

The Thornes opened the restaurant in January 2019 and the food truck – complete with commercial-grade equipment such as a 60-inch griddle – in April 2020.

While their menu for the festival was still taking shape in early March, Michael Thorne said it likely will include crabby fries and crab cake sandwiches, plus ice cream and milkshakes. The Thornes try to customize their edible offerings to match the theme of an event – like apple-infused recipes for Chambersburg’s AppleFest – but the Food Truck Fest provides a broad palette on which to create.

“It’s carte blanche,” so anything goes, Thorne said.

Rolly Alegre, owner of Rollz on Wheelz, is expecting to dole out rice noodles with chicken; two kinds of lumpia (spring rolls) – one with pork, one with chicken and cheese; chicken adobo, made with soy sauce and vinegar; and possibly crispy pork bellies.

Also among Alegre’s Filipino cuisine will be two desserts – deep-fried cassava and halo-halo, which features mixed fruits in syrup atop shaved ice, topped with purple yam ice cream.

Adding to the flavorful mix will be Pully Wissle Provisions and Fat Russ’ BBQ. They are new to the Chambersburg fest and plan to pull out all the stops.

Jason Bachtell, who owns Pully Wissle with his wife, Tarra, said the name comes from his childhood, much of which was spent at the farm in Leitersburg, Md., owned by his grandparents, Kenneth and Mary Bachtell. They raised plants and animals there, and pussy willows were plentiful on the property. Bachtell has a younger cousin who, at the age of about 3, wanted to name a white chicken on the farm Pussy Willow, but he pronounced it “Pully Wissle,” and the name stuck. The business’ logo is a caricature of his grandfather with a chicken on his shoulder.

The Bachtells’ food lineup will include smoked brisket burnt ends, which are tender morsels smoked in a thick sweet reduction; whiskey cured, smoked and candied salmon bites made with Lakehouse Distilling Co. spirits; slaw: smoked chicken dip with four cheeses and buffalo-style sauce; and smoked pimiento macaroni and cheese. He’ll throw in what he called “bacon lollipops,” too, which are pieces of thick-cut bacon that are skewered, smoked and candied, plus some smoked sweet tea to wash it all down.

The Bachtells catered their first event in August 2018 at GearHouse Brewing Co. in Chambersburg. They didn’t have a truck then, so set up a tent and brought a smoker along, but did all the prepping in the brewing company’s kitchen. In early 2019, Jason came across a food truck for sale online at a reasonable price and took the plunge. When Jason isn’t working as an electrical engineer, he cooks, while his pharmacist wife serves as “head taste tester,” assembles the food and takes care of customers, he said.

Those who stop by Fat Russ’ BBQ at the Food Truck Fest can sink their teeth into pulled pork and chicken; brisket sandwiches; porchisket (pork, chicken and beef brisket on a hoagie roll with three sauces); macaroni and cheese; Western-style baked beans; and coleslaw. Owner Russ Conn said he might bring some banana pudding and honey corn muffins, too.

Conn has always enjoyed cooking for large crowds and was known for doing so at homes he has had in Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. He left Manitowoc in 2016 because he was tired of traveling, but now drives his pork wagon in the region spanning Gettysburg, McConnellsburg and Shippensburg, Pa., to the Martinsburg, W.Va., area.

He started operating Fat Russ’ in June 2016, began catering in early 2017, then started roadside service year-round with the help of his wife, Kristine Chaney. She does a lot of the planning for the business, takes the orders from customers, handles the money at the window and keeps Conn stocked with everything he needs while he cooks.

Conn loves the fast pace of a festival.

“I like the excitement of it,” he said. “It’s nuts, it really is,” he said of the two-minutes-per-customer rate at which Fat Russ’ cranks out orders for crowds.

The relationship among the food truck vendors is one of camaraderie rather than rivalry.

“We try to support each other,” said Alegre, an information-technology contractor who hopes to devote more time to his food truck in the coming year.

Conn echoed Alegre’s sentiment.

“We all work together,” Conn said. “I’ve never been into competing.”

Among the other eateries confirmed as participants are:

● Bentwood Smokers BBQ & Catering

● Chameleon 1648 Culinary Services

● Cold Spring Hollow Distillery

● Eat Lotus Bowls

● Edwards Kettle Corn

● Farm Show Milkshakes

● Italian Job Food Truck

● Jenni’s Knife and Spork

● Lake House Distilling Co.

● Laughing Crab Catering

● Phillips Pizza and Cheese Steaks

● Shuman’s Concessions

● Taste of Reggae

● The Hog Trough BBQ Food Truck

● Uncle Eddie’s BBQ

Thrush hopes the food truck extravaganza will lure people downtown.

“We’re trying to generate foot traffic,” he said, “making downtown a destination for foodies” and showcasing the local food industry.

Sponsoring the second rendition of the Food Truck Fest are Menno Haven, Pennsylvania National Guard Recruiting, Shafer Equipment Co., Momentum Services LLC, Mann Plumbing & Heating LLC, Corning Credit Union, and Phoenix Physical Therapy. Directional Traffic is providing signage and VerStandig Media is a media partner.

As an outdoor event, the festival is at the whim of Mother Nature’s mood swings. If the weather is inclement, the event will be canceled. Cancellations will be posted at

To be considered as a vendor for the festival, contact Thrush at 717-264-7101, ext. 204, or [email protected].

For more information, go to, where details about the Food Truck Fest can be found under the “events” tab and parking options can be found under the “explore” tab. DCI’s event page at will be updated as vendors are added.

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