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View Full Version : Advice on vending my first fair.


Pa_BBQ
06-07-2011, 10:46 AM
Our county fair is not huge, we are a very small rural community so its a great place to start. BBQ is almost un heard of and to be honest do not ever remember seeing a BBQ vendor at our fair ever.

I am mainly going to do pulled pork, chips and canned drinks to keep it simple.

I do have to submit a menu in the next few days and can not offer anything that is not approved on that menu.

I am wondering if I should add ribs and chicken to the menu in case I want to cook those some days, but have the pulled pork as the main offering.

I am guessing you do not HAVE to keep stock of each item but you can not decide to offer it if it was not already approved on the application.

For those who do fair's what do you offer and are there any items to avoid.

The nice thing about our small fair, is that the space is quite inexpensive, so will be great to get our cooking out to people for very little cost.

getyourrubonbbq
06-07-2011, 10:51 AM
How are you going to store the food and what will use for cooking? How many days will you vend?

Pa_BBQ
06-07-2011, 11:05 AM
How are you going to store the food and what will use for cooking? How many days will you vend?

We are in the process of building a vending trailer, although it will be a temp food permit and not have to be an approved mobile facility. We were in the process of getting a mobile vending license when we decided to do the fair.

Here in Pa you can get 3 temp permits a year with out having to have a regular vending license. We should have our regular permit by then, but if not can easily have the temp permit.

We will have a clean dry place with refrigerator, coolers and 3 compartment sinks along with a hand sink to prepare food. Food will be brought in mornings that are sealed and in coolers from Sams. I will also have a 10X10 tent with table and chairs to serve under.
I will be vending for 6 days.

chad
06-07-2011, 11:51 AM
For the first outing, keep it simple. Pork sandwiches, chips, and drink is a great start. Next year or next time you can add to the menu! :-D

Bigdog
06-07-2011, 12:00 PM
For the first outing, keep it simple. Pork sandwiches, chips, and drink is a great start. Next year or next time you can add to the menu! :-D

Listen to the old fart. :thumb:

Dr_KY
06-07-2011, 01:44 PM
Go with you original idea then add turkey legs to the menu. They hot-hold very well and that's something you are going to need to consider.


I find that turkey legs sell out big time! With a family on a budget they tend to look for the best bang for the buck, we post a big ol sign announcing the turkey legs (aprx) weight and price. It's easy math for the customer- Buy a 1/4 pound cheese burger or a 1 pound smoked fresh turkey leg for about the same price? Everyone sells processed burgers but turkey legs offer more for less and two people can eat off one.

Whenever anyone orders one the girls at the front start yelling "TURKEY LEEGEGGGGG!!! and ring the triangle. It's a huge attention getter. I even started autographing the finished bone then zip tied my business card to it. Bring it back tomorrow and we give you a buy one get one half price.

We try and make food fun at events like festivals.

Big_Alvin
06-07-2011, 01:50 PM
what do you get for a turkey leg?

hmacmill
06-07-2011, 01:53 PM
How will you reheat the pulled pork?

Pa_BBQ
06-07-2011, 01:59 PM
How will you reheat the pulled pork?

Either in a foil pan on the ts120 or a roaster

Dr_KY
06-07-2011, 02:01 PM
Things are way different over here, we go .50p above whatever the burgers (usually around 3.30-4.00 for a burger from a festival vendor.) are going for at other vendors. I don't know anyone that vends them here so it has to be a a good price being new to the masses. We could be asking more but most places have been overloaded with food stalls.

They are not too expensive direct from the butchers.

Jacked UP BBQ
06-07-2011, 02:57 PM
Go big or go home. Thats jacked up's theory for vending. Be there to make money or dont do it.

Bigdog
06-07-2011, 03:02 PM
Go big or go home. Thats jacked up's theory for vending. Be there to make money or dont do it.

True that but we were just saying don't go "all in" your first time.

Pa_BBQ
06-07-2011, 03:27 PM
Just contacted the fair, with the deadline this Friday to sign up, they are excited to have their first BBQ vendor (us)

I believe I am going to offer BBQ chicken (thighs) and Ribs. I find ribs and chicken easy to cook and I will have my cooker there. I will not have Ribs every day, may offer them on day 3 and advertise them as while they last and see how they go.

I am looking forward to this especially since they have never had a BBQ vendor before.

chad
06-07-2011, 03:41 PM
Good luck.

PCDoctor_1979
06-07-2011, 04:39 PM
Odd as it my sound, I've added smoked chicken legs to my festival menu. People like them because they are easy to eat while walking around. They get done in a couple of hours or so and hot hold pretty well. Selling price is $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00 making for a nice margin. I get them at Sam's and they are pretty good size, approximate cost each is $0.50. The price gets better if you purchase by the case.

Jacked UP BBQ
06-07-2011, 04:42 PM
Chicken thighs are not a hot seller unless you use them for pulled chicken. Make sure you sell ribs everyday, there are no repeat customers usually when vending so be ready to sell your menu at all times. Most people visit a fair once so you will only have that time to sell to them. Be ready. Make sure you put pork on the menu its the #1 seller!

Tinybud
06-07-2011, 05:01 PM
when we are vending a local event that is mulitple days, we get a good bit of repeat customers, when we are traveling to larger more populated areas, definately allot less repeat, especially if its just a 2 day event, Good luck with your first event.

Dr_KY
06-07-2011, 05:16 PM
Your extra menu items will depend on where you are located and people can be creatures of habit. Pulled pork is not easy to sell over here but sliced and called a hog roast is.

If I did french fries (chips) I would make a killing! We often have people buying them from the fish and ciop guys then coming to us for them BBQ beans to go on em. A quid get's them a large spoon full.

The_Kapn
06-07-2011, 05:39 PM
I am no expert at all of this, but:

I would think really hard about vending ribs till I had a bit of experience.
Unless you are buying them "really right", margin is not that great and chances for error seem high.

Maybe some of the experts could elaborate on this.

Butts and Chicken parts seem like a safe way to get started.

Are you doing plates or just pieces and parts of meat/sandwiches??

I have heard that bbq beans are cost effective. I know I make them cheap.
Some of the guys seem to use commercial Coleslaw and/or potatoe salad with good luck.

I am just throwing out some questions here--not advice.

Hope you have a great and profitable experience.

TIM

thillin
06-07-2011, 05:54 PM
I'd offer smoked sausage as well. Easy and quick to heat as needed. Either on a stick or bun. That's what I'd choose over a sandwich in most cases. Beer in one hand, and sausage on a stick is easy to eat.

chad
06-07-2011, 06:13 PM
I've had BBQ parfaits with pork, beans, and slaw. I think Big Mista does a version with mashed potatoes. Easy to fix, easy for the customer to carry and eat -- basically a clear "go cup" and a fork!!

Ford
06-07-2011, 06:28 PM
as already said keep it simple. Maybe add beans as a side if you have a good recipe. another possible is bbq nachos. chips then cheese sauce then pulled pork and bbq sauce with jalepenos optional. for the first time ribs are hard to do. don't hold as well especially without proper holding. chopped brisket is also a good seller for me. holds,cools,reheats very well.

big brother smoke
06-07-2011, 07:25 PM
Good luck!

chad
06-07-2011, 09:09 PM
I'd offer smoked sausage as well. Easy and quick to heat as needed. Either on a stick or bun. That's what I'd choose over a sandwich in most cases. Beer in one hand, and sausage on a stick is easy to eat.

Sausage on a stick is a TX thing. I tried that when I had the turkey leg disaster...we could not give away the turkey legs or sausages. AND, they were cooked on-site...

Regional differences and different times of the year do have an impact.

Now, I stick with simple. The best days are the days I run out or have one pan of "whatever" left!!

Pa_BBQ
06-07-2011, 09:27 PM
I am going to stick with pulled pork and chicken, I did this for my daughters grad party and it was a hit and easy to manage the two.

I may have some ribs handy for some night after the fair closes to share with some other non BBQ vendors and Beer to let them taste what I can do.

Thanks for the good advice, and I will take it.

Denny

Jacked UP BBQ
06-07-2011, 10:19 PM
Lets say you get 100 customers to order
The profit margin is greater in a pulled pork sandwich but you make much more off a rack of ribs. i would rather sell 100 half racks then 100 pulled pork sandwiches. Rethink not doing ribs, they draw people. Pork is sold by a lot of NON BBQ guys also.

Jacked UP BBQ
06-07-2011, 10:20 PM
Not sure how far you are from Philly but I have a GREAT source of presmoked ribs to your recipe for a super deal out there. Re heat and eat. Great product.

jbrink01
06-07-2011, 10:35 PM
Keep it simple. Pulled pork and bratwurst. Cook as much pork as you expect to sell / a bit on the low side maybe. Use your brats to make up if you run short. PP, Loose Chips, Pepsi or Water. $7. Brats for a buck less. Use Johnsonville Sheboygan from a wholesaler.

jbrink01
06-07-2011, 10:38 PM
as already said keep it simple. Maybe add beans as a side if you have a good recipe. another possible is bbq nachos. chips then cheese sauce then pulled pork and bbq sauce with jalepenos optional. for the first time ribs are hard to do. don't hold as well especially without proper holding. chopped brisket is also a good seller for me. holds,cools,reheats very well.

We do something very similar called a Haystack. Build in this order; Fritos, PP, Sauce, Shredded Cheese, Shredded Lettuce, Diced Red Onions, Ranch Dressing.

JimmyDAL
06-08-2011, 08:18 PM
Nice!

Tinybud
06-08-2011, 09:46 PM
Not sure how far you are from Philly but I have a GREAT source of presmoked ribs to your recipe for a super deal out there. Re heat and eat. Great product.

I know your source, and its awesome. We use it when we are in the philly area.

hmacmill
06-09-2011, 07:57 AM
When you guys sell pulled pork, how do you reheat?

Jacked UP BBQ
06-09-2011, 10:10 AM
Depending on the size of the event I will cook pork on site through the night and pull and pan and cambro in the morning. If I have precooked I heat up in pans in the smoker or convection oven. There is a lot more to vending then just showing up with a cooker and some tables. If you want to make money at it there are a lot of tools you will need.

jbrink01
06-09-2011, 01:14 PM
When you guys sell pulled pork, how do you reheat?

Under 60 butts I sell fresh ou of my FEC500. More than that, in steam pans with AJ or Chicken Stock. If it's close, I take both FEC's and cook 120 butts fresh.