Food Vending at Festivals: Your Recipe for Success
Setting Up a Food Stall at Festivals: What to Consider
If you’re considering taking your concession business on the road this summer, food vendor opportunities abound.
Will it be best to stay relatively local, or travel to big-name national events? And what will you need to do to make summer event concessions a success? We’ve got answers to these questions and more.
What to Sell at Festivals
Making sure you’re prepared to meet the needs of festivalgoers means understanding who they are and what they’re looking for.
In general, visitors to smaller local festivals will be content with traditional fair food offerings, but they’ll also be interested in trying new things.
These customers are typically locals looking to have a good time with their families and friends. Items like Funnel Swirls or fun new foods on a stick will be good to add to your menu. Pinterest is a great place to browse for unique food ideas and inspiration.
Keep in mind the theme of the event too: if you’re setting up a food stall at a Strawberry Festival or a Garlic Festival, for example, you don’t have to fit your whole menu into the theme, but you should definitely feature one or two items with the festival’s food of choice.
If you make the trek to a large festival like Bonnaroo or Coachella, your customer base will obviously be quite different.
These are folks who have traveled for miles to see their favorite bands and have a memorable experience – and they’ve paid a lot of money to do so. They’re looking for high-quality foods that are unique and delicious.
Make sure that you have a selection that differentiates you from the competition and adds plenty of value for customers.
Also put some thought into your drink menu. Festival attendees, especially those who are camping for extended periods of time, will need to stay hydrated, so have bottled water as well as creative drink options to sell.
Vendor Fees for Festivals – and Other Cost Considerations
While food vending at festivals can generate solid profits as well as increasing awareness of your business, there’s still a lot to think about when deciding if it will be worth the investment of time and money.
Local Festival Requirements and Expectations
If you’re staying local, your costs will be lower, but they will still exist. Aside from your normal inventory of supplies, have a conversation (or several) with the event coordinator so you are clear on:
- Booth/space rental fees
- Any special local permits you need to obtain
- Electrical capabilities and whether you’ll need extension cords or a generator
- Contract and commitment – if the festival is a regular gathering, are you required and willing to be at each one?
National Festival Considerations
For big-name events, in addition to the above factors, you’ll also need to weigh the extra costs against your expected profits to decide if sales and exposure will be worth it to make the trip.
Some added expenses for big festivals include:
- Travel and accommodations (for yourself and/or any employees)
- Transport – how will your equipment and supplies get to the festival site?
- Space and storage – will you need to rent freezers or other storage or prep space for the duration of the event?
- Additional licensing – are there other requirements for out-of-state vendors?
How to Find Events Looking for Food Vendors
If you’re ready to get into large festivals, you probably already have an idea of which ones you’re interested in. If not, conduct an online search for music festivals in the area you’re considering, or for the specific type of event you think your business would cater to best.
For smaller, more local events, check city websites for listings, as well as local chamber of commerce sites. You can perform a search for “things to do in [city]” to find options too. Another good place to check is fairsandfestivals.net.
Is Food Vending at Festivals Worth It?
As with any venture, there are tradeoffs when selling food at festivals and events. You can certainly get more exposure for your business and you have the potential to make significant profits.
But there are associated costs that may bring profits down. Here’s a great resource to get first-hand take on some of the general costs of food vending.
If you’re just starting out, setting up a food stall at events can be a great way to test the waters before opening a more permanent operation. And if you’re well established and confident you can handle all that mobile vending will involve, food vending at festivals is perfect for supplementing your existing business.
Ready to explore ideas beyond festivals? Find some possibilities on other places to set up your food cart or trailer.