Festivals and Fairs

If you choose to sell at festivals and fairs, identifying the best opportunities is key to successful operation. The volume of sales will depend on where you’re selling. Food vending at festivals is not only a fun seasonal job, but it can be a great business opportunity. There are many events for your food vending business. Consider vending at flea markets, seasonal festivals, craft shows, exhibitions, fairs or even bazaars.

Where to Find Venues?
Finding the right venue in your area can be really easy and real potential for a great source of profit. Here are a quick few tips to get you started on your food festival hunt.

FairsandFestivals and Festivals.net
These resources charge a small fee for aggregating all of the best fairs and festivals nation-wide. You’ll find a range of different street fairs, exhibitions and festivals listed.
Determine all the events you’re interested in, contact  them and see which events are most suitable for you (time, cost, location, etc.)
• Get in contact with your local churches or community centers. Most churches and local organizations host different events throughout the year. These usually host a wide variety of food from different cultures and are always eager to get more people participating. You can be a constant food

vendor at all their festivals.
• You may simply stumble across them. You should always keep your eyes open for any posters or ads. You may even find ads posted up on shop windows seeking out different food vendors. Always keep a look out for potential opportunities.

• Subscribe to a local magazine or newspaper that keeps its readers up-to-date with upcoming

events. Your local magazines are bound to be full of information on all sorts of exhibitions, fairs and festivals.

Booking a space

Two of the most difficult challenges food vendors face every day is

1. Finding the right venues such as fairs, exhibitions and festivals
2. Convincing the venue organizers that it would be to their best interest in hiring you to be part of their event.


Finding the right venues such as fairs, exhibitions and festivals
You’re going to find lots of opportunities so the next step is to study each venue and check out the volume and type of customers you would get. You need to check how busy the venue is to be satisfied that you will have enough customers and you need to assess whether the type of customer suits the type of food that you’re selling.  If you don’t personally know the venue, don’t just ask the organizer as they may only  tell you what you want to hear, ask those that have been there, find out about the venue from newspapers magazines, the internet, people living the vicinity and keep on searching until you’re satisfied about the potential. Once you decided on the venue, you can decide on the kind of food you’re going to vend at a particular festival or event. You need to also think about how you want to set up a unique booth display and buy any additional equipment or supplies that you may require at this particular event.

Convincing the venue organizers that it would be to their best interest in hiring you to be part of their event.
Each fair and festival differs slightly in terms of operation, so make sure you know everything there is to know about the venue before applying, you want to make sure that you cover all venue’s needs and demands and at the same time you need to ensure you will not get stuck with commitments you cannot follow through. Also, make sure you know the venue’s required documentation as some venues require licensing from a local authority which will also include a fee. Make sure you’re fully prepared, and check insurance and any other requirements. You’ll find that some venues cover vendor insurance while others will require you to purchase your own.

One of the most difficult steps in food vending is actually getting accepted into a festival or fair. Venue organizers will take into account your menu, references and set up plans. Take pictures of your booth and equipment and make them look their absolute best. Make sure you apply early, organizers take into account all early applications before the late ones. Stress in your application how important cleanliness is to you and your business at it is one the most important factors for your organizers. Include any reference from past venues you’ve participated in (if applicable) and if you’re still new in the food vendor community , try to find out why you were turned down from any event and you will then be able to improve your food vendor application for future opportunities.

Festival and fair organizers are continuously searching for new unique products to have at their venues because at the end of the day all they want is increased attendance. Besides, checking your license and documentation, there are a lot of factors which your event organizers will take into consideration, some of these include: a great menu, something that will stand out from the rest, but still attract a large number of customers. Always aim for a wide range of tastes and even if you have a specialty, make sure you include food which is popular at fair and festivals like hot dogs and burgers. Your organizers will also look for uniqueness in you menu and one way you can do that is by offering vegetarian or vegan options or perhaps even vending food from different cultures.

Your booth is also an important factor to your organizers, and setting up a unique booth will not only impress your organizers but also drive traffic towards you. You can even have some interesting uniform, organizers like themed ideas and if you create on that will work well for your booth you may have earned your spot in the venue. As a new food vendor, offering the same products that 100 other food vendors is not going to help you penetrate new markets. Keep in mind that new and exciting doesn’t necessarily mean exotic foods (though new and unusual foods do usually have an up-hand in getting accepted into venues most the time) but a uniquely decorated stand, trailer or  perhaps an unusual outfit will do the job of standing out amongst other competitions. Be careful when trying to promote anything that involves music though, as music themes can work against you as far as some venue organizers are concerned.

It’s recommended that you have a small brochure available which includes what you stands or trailers look like inside out and an outline of the menu and operation processes and how many customers can be served every hour for the venue manager to review. This helps give your venue organizer a feeling of professionalism and that you take your business seriously. You should know that the quality of the food you’re offering is viewed as an important part of the total venue experience to both the attendees and the venue manager. If the food quality is poor or health standards are poor, the attendees will say that the entire festival experience was poor which will result in bad publicity for the venue.

Be very thorough when discussing your food vendor cleanliness with the venue manager and stress on it several times. Even add past venues, festivals and fairs that you have previously attended as reference. You should also mention how your food vendor is efficiently prepared to serve any number of customers while maintaining high quality and cleanliness standards.

Don’t get nervous and frustrated, you may have to fill out a lot of food vendor forms to different venues and events before getting a response from a few, and like any job resume, make sure you indicate why you should be chosen for the location instead of a competing food vendor. List your strengths and unique food vendor traits in an attractive way.   Also when discussing the arrangements, don’t forget to ask your venue organizer about any specific requirements or needs, like for example how the garbage disposal works and whether there are any connections to the electric mains supply. This not only shows the organizer that you are thorough and well organized but also enables you to be well prepared when you are accepted into the venue, for example, if there is no electricity connection, you may need to hire a small electric generator.

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