CORNELIUS – Strangers became friends over the love of food June 21 as they waited in lines to taste unique meals from restaurants on wheels.

After the storm blew over, the Oak Street Mill parking lot became like a block party as hundreds took part in the second annual Food Truck Invitational, hosted by the community events organization Bella Love. It featured a variety of food trucks to meet diverse tastes, like meatloaf and mac and cheese on a sandwich, fish tacos, ham and Brie melt and farmers market pizza.

Mark and Dana Degan couldn’t wait to come to taste the food in a local event.

“We love food trucks,” Mark said. “We usually have to go to Charlotte for this. You get such a variety of good, high quality food. And it’s economical.”

“And great to be outside,” Dana chimed in.

As they sampled from the street eateries, attendees voted for their favorites, as did some celebrity critics, including Hilary Broadway and Bill Russell from the Lake Norman Chamber, Cornelius Commissioner Woody Washam and Choplin’s Restaurant Owner Wes Choplin.

Winning top prizes were The Imperial Sandwich Co. for Most Creative, The Plated Palette for Most Nutritious, Yappy Hour Bakery for Best Looking Truck, Papa Libretto’s Street Pizza for Critics Choice and the Art of Baking for Fan Favorite. Winners received a painting of a food truck with the winning category to hang on their truck, handcrafted by Edie Lee of Mooresville. Other food trucks in attendance were Thyme 2 Eat, All-Star Café, Ruthie’s of Charlotte and Sunset Slush of the Queen City.

Lynard Williams, an owner of Art For Baking, said it was an excellent event, drawing a good crowd.

It was a good day for Art of Baking, having to close early after running out of food and then winning an award.

“It was surprising,” Williams said. “We were elated we were chosen as fan favorite among so many different food trucks."

He said people enjoy food truck festivals because they are family friendly and offer fellowship with people from a variety of backgrounds.

Jessica Boye, of Bella Love, said this year was bigger than last year’s event despite the weather.

“I think everyone had a fun time,” she said. “I think we may have doubled in attendance.”

Part of the fun was talking to people in line and even jokingly commiserating as employees crossed off popular menu items no longer available, like the coveted fish tacos from Plated Palette.

“I’ve waited this long for the fish tacos, but I’m still going to stay,” said Chuck Cassell with a grin as he opted for a chipotle chicken quesadilla instead. He brought several family members and friendswith him.

“We’ve been trying to get to the food trucks in Charlotte, but we’ve haven’t been able to make it downtown,” he said. “I love watching the television show on Food Network about food trucks. I wanted to come experience it for myself.”