UPDATED: 11:46 a.m. 10/7/2010

It’s a celebration of the city’s emerging food truck culture, yes. But the inaugural Curbside Cookoff is also a political statement for many of the participants, who hope it will resonate with D.C. Council members whenever they decide to tackle the contentious vending regulations this fall.

Twenty of the city’s favorite food vendors will gather at CityCenterDC today and tomorrow as part of an ever-growing festival (a dance party? a beer garden?) that will culminate in the presentation of The Curby, given to the most popular truck.  Here’s the current leaderboard on the award and how to vote. Ballot stuffing may already be taking place.

The event starts at 11:30 today with something that organizers are calling “Curbside Cool,” which looks like a combination of music, art, and performances.  A dance party starts after work at 5 p.m. OK, fine.

The real reason to brave the crush of humanity that’s sure to gather at the site of the old Convention Center is to sample all those food trucks you’ve been chasing for months now. Some of the best mobile vendors in the metro area will be there, including the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck, Rebel Heroes, District Taco, and the Fry Captain.

They’ll be there serving food and serving up literature on how you can help them stay alive from those interests who would like to see them curbed permanently.

“The Curbside Cookoff is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about DC Food Trucks and issues coming before the City Council,” e-mailed Asher Huey, an online organizer working with the local food trucks on their regulatory campaign.

“It’s not hyperbole when I say this is do or die for the food trucks. Title 24 as it is currently written would at the very least keep food trucks in business,” Huey continued. “But the council may soon pass different or amended regulations which could shut down food trucks by the end of the year. This would be an embarrassment for the city. DC does not want to be the only major city in the U.S. that actively pushes out innovative small businesses.”

Added Huey: “This week’s Cookoff will clearly demonstrate the popularity of these food trucks. We reached out and hope that the City Council, Mayor elect- Gray and Mayor Fenty all decide to come and participate. It would be shame if they missed a chance to see the food trucks in action, before they consider the regulations.”