Thursday, March 27, 2014

The official Rickshaw Run wrap


All right, folks - grab a cafe sua da and settle in.  This is going to be a long 'un.


Over four days in March, we put the 'scray on show for the fourth annual Rickshaw Run.  People came from as far away as London, Michigan and Dunedin to see what we were all about.


From both anecdotal evidence throughout the weekend and from our official followup survey, the response was overwhelmingly positive.  94% of all survey respondents said they would return to Footscray as a result of the Rickshaw Run.


The Footscray Traders Association (a not-for-profit organisation offering free membership to all traders in the area) created the Rickshaw Run with the explicit aim of encouraging more visitors to Footscray.  With these sort of numbers, and sell-out crowds for the past four years, I think it's fair to say it was a rip-roaring success.

In the survey we asked what people enjoyed or valued most about the event.  Read on for some of their thoughts...


"Seeing such an amazing range of produce at the market, produce I could taste and see."


"All the people were friendly and wanted to share their passion about Footscray."


"The whole experience.  We then spent a couple of hours walking and shopping around Footscray."


...and my favourite one:  simply, "Food."  I think that really says it all!


Speaking of which, boy, was it good.  From freshly-shucked oysters to street-style snacks at Co Thu Quan, for the most part, people loved it all.


Patrons loved the hands-on element at Sen, where they made their own rice paper rolls...


...while at Phong Dinh, trying the house special hu tieu rice noodle soup, one guest commented, "Best soup in Footscray we have ever had...we love here and have tried most of them.  Sensational".


At To's Bakery, folks got a sensory overload with mini coconut pancakes, cooked streetside...


...freshly pressed sugarcane juice...


...for some lucky groups, a shoulder massage from Origin Chinese Massage across the street...


...and electrifying Japanese drumming.  One person commented, "I was too distracted by the drummers to eat".  I feel ya.


What I loved most about what we began to call the "stage corner" was the way the wider community could get involved, enjoying the music, and taking some snaps in the rickshaws between performances.


Bun cha Ha Noi from Sapa Hills won a lot of hearts, with one guest so taken by it that they reported they went home and made it for dinner that night!


Our survey also gleaned some constructive criticism, which FTA will definitely take on board next year.  There were also quite a few great suggestions for future Footscray-focused events - watch this space!


There was one strong theme in the comments that I haven't touched on yet.  They had to do with our amazing army of volunteers.  Exactly 100 amazing individuals put down their weekend plans and picked up the Rickshaw Run baton.


You were an an incredible, diverse and happy bunch who brought a spirit to the event that could not be bought.  I was so humbled and delighted to have the help of so many fantastic people, most of whom I had never met before the day.


In the survey, people said they valued "the enthusiasm of the volunteers...every one seem to enjoy what they were doing" [sic].


"The spirit of the event was wonderful.  The passion of the volunteers of their local area was inspiring."


"I loved the event as a whole but I think the volunteers really made it special."


And all you crazy volunteers - from all your comments, you loved it too.  One person said it "made me feel like I was contributing to something".  Said another, "I thought it was Type 1 fun - you know when it's actually fun at the time, as opposed to Type 2 - hell at the time but fun in retrospect!"


You can read my shout-out to the whole volunteer crew in this post.  I do want to say a very special thank-you though to the Footscray Rugby Union Club, who came on board to staff an entire shift.  


These guys and girls got so much praise from guests for their good humour and professionalism.  More about the club coming soon - there's a foodie connection there too that I'm looking forward to sharing!


We had a number of very special guests, including Footscray royalty - Tony and Rosa Cavallaro!


Every guest on the Saturday lunchtime session got an added bonus - some delicious, complimentary treats from T. Cavallaro & Sons.  Tony and Rosa are such untiring champions of the area and their generosity continues to impress and inspire me.


Another very special guest was Niamh Shields of London food blog "Eat Like a Girl", cosied up here with my gal Veda Gilbert, aka the Hospitality Widow.  She had an absolutely jam-packed schedule for the Food and Wine Festival, but little old us made it not once, but twice in her highlights post - check it out here!


We got some more blog love thanks to Joyce from Mel: Hot or Not, Bryan of Let's Get Fat Together, Kenny from Consider the Sauce and Jo from thehangrybitch.  Thanks guys, and let me know if I missed any more!


I think you'll agree our official photographer Cristian Iotti did the most fantastic job.  He's a local westie and you can see more of his work at his site,

I could keep going on, but I'll let federal MP (and rickshaw puller!) Tim Watts sum it up, with his shout-out to the Rickshaw Run and all her volunteers - in no less than Federal Parliament!


To finish - know what was my absolute favourite comment from our survey?


See you in 2015!


  1. Hi Lauren, once again true to form you pass on the glory to the volunteers but it was you who held it all together and provided the environment for us to enjoy ourself volunteering. I had so much fun doing the Rickshaw Run and encourage anyone who can to get involved in the future endeavours (which I hope there will be many). congratulations, Scott


I love getting your comments! They're what make blogging worthwhile. Unfortunately, the amount of spam I get is obscene and it is so tiresome to have to moderate every comment, so I have had to turn on annoying word verification. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but please know how much I love you having your say!

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