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HBMTN
09-20-2010, 07:38 PM
Hello all,

We are doing our 1st festival in 3 weeks. I was wondering for those that do BBQ at festivals, do you offer meals or just sandwiches? Also what quanities would you cook for an event that the promoter says is 5000 to 7000 (and I doubt that many) in attendance? It is a down town fall festival from 10am til 4pm on a Saturday. Thinking about doing pulled pork and brisket, along with some moink balls. Anything else you would add. My smoker will hold 24 butts max so I thought about doing some pre-cooking also. Would appreciate any other advice and wisdom anyone could share as well.

Thanks

Ruben

Ford
09-20-2010, 08:31 PM
A lot depends on the type of festival. 10-4 means that you are only dealing with 1 mealtime. If it's not a BBQ festival then most folks won't come down thinking BBQ but maybe a meal. So you're in competition with all the vendors. Take half the people and divide by the number of real food vendors (not funnel cakes) and that's your best case volume probably. 5000 = 2500 people. If 5 vendors then about 500 people it 10 then about 250 people. It varies some but that's a real good starting point.

Now meals vs. sandwiches and rib samplers. If there's an area with picnic tables then meals do pretty good but if it's all people walking with no place to sit then it's hard to eat a meal.

And on Wednesday before you actually buy the meat check the weekend weather. If it's looking for rain then you will probably get 50% or less of the crowd estimate show up and more won't eat unless there's a covered area.

BigBrad
09-20-2010, 08:35 PM
I did three events this year and over estimated everyone. I ended up with lots of leftovers and wasted buns. You need to know how many venders will be serving and what they are surving. I served brisket and pulled pork sandwiches with chips and cans of pop. For a one day event like this I would probably plan on 400 to 500 sandwiches. This would be a good goal and if you sell that many you will be pretty busy in the amount of time for the day. I found out the more you have to sell the more of a pain in the butt it is. The easier the better. Good luck and have fun.

Two Bears
09-21-2010, 01:49 AM
I did three events this year and over estimated everyone. I ended up with lots of leftovers and wasted buns. You need to know how many venders will be serving and what they are surving. I served brisket and pulled pork sandwiches with chips and cans of pop. For a one day event like this I would probably plan on 400 to 500 sandwiches. This would be a good goal and if you sell that many you will be pretty busy in the amount of time for the day. I found out the more you have to sell the more of a pain in the butt it is. The easier the better. Good luck and have fun.


Big Brad :
Not to hijack the thread but is the Red Rooster Lounge still the fine upstanding establishment that it used to be in the 80's ?
How about the joint accross the road from it?

Had to go a couple :boxing::boxing:rounds there back then...

CivilWarBBQ
09-21-2010, 01:57 AM
Whenever possible it's best to ask for the names of a few vendors who worked the show the previous year. Call them to get the real scoop on what you can expect. There are only two 100% dependable laws of vending:

1) The organizer will always inflate attendance numbers.
2) If it rains, you're screwed.

Jacked UP BBQ
09-21-2010, 07:59 AM
10-4 one day event. Stay away! 10-12 no one will eat. You will have 4 hour window tops to pump out food. If you are looking for the experience do it, if you are looking for a homerun, stay home. I pre cook everything. You cannot cook onsite it is nearly impossible.

PorkQPine
09-21-2010, 01:05 PM
I would be real cautious about doing a lot of food. 8 butts and a 100 smoked hot dogs would be all I would do. Do the butts the night before and take hot in a Cambro and cook the hot dogs on-site. Forget about brisket, too expensive if you don't sell out. Selling out is much better than taking food home. Next year you can adjust your numbers. Are they charging you to be there? That would be a deal killer.

jbrink01
09-21-2010, 01:06 PM
We've only had success at 1, 1 day event. We did pulled pork and brats. Had a huge crowd that was drinking heavily and only cleared $700.00. In order to get rid of the brats (we froze the leftover pork) we wrapped them up, some with mustard, some without and walked the beer line selling them for $2. If you do it, look upon it as a marketing tool only. We had another 1 day event that COST us $400 to do. Our help made money and we spent it. We are very selective now, and only do a few higher profile events in order to let people know we are still alive as a caterer.

HBMTN
09-21-2010, 05:09 PM
I asked the question today about food vendors and this is the response I got. I was told when I signed up that only one vendor of each type will be there but now I see the Ruitans will have some pork BBQ (doubt it will be up to par). I know the guy who dod it last year and he is out of town this year but told me it rained all day and he sold about 14 butts by 2pm and was sold out

The response:

Hey Ruben -
So far, Ruritans are doing burgers, country ham sandwiches, pork BBQ (they know that you're doing it too) and drinks; Buffalo Mt. Concessions is doing funnel cakes, fresh lemonade, cheeseburgers, french fries, nachos, coffee, tea, and fried bologna sandwiches . The three of you are the big food vendors. I had an inquiry from a Thai vendor, but have not seen an application from them. Last year we also had someone frying pork skins,and she has indicated an interest again, but has also not sent in an application as of yet. We also have other folks selling baked goods, fudge, bread, kettle corn, fresh limeade & lemonade, bottled water, fresh apples, etc. And then there are our 2 downtown restaurants of course - pizza/subs and hot dogs/sandwiches, and soup.

Dr_KY
09-22-2010, 03:27 AM
The reason they "have not seen an application from them is because" those guys don't want to get suckered again. As for the "indicated an interest again" said person will consider doing the event IF the pitch price is cheaper, the number of guest are up and the overall amount of vendors on the day is less.

You need to consider what they are charging you to vend then run the numbers the way Ford suggested, I also think P-Q-P is in the ball park.

Do it if you want to know what it's like but don't go in with any hopes of making much over even if what the organizer is telling you is true. We have been sold the same pack of lies so we started asking for it in writing , if there are more then agreed we get a full refund of our pitch price. See, if they can't do that at the very least then turn away and never look back.


We no longer do festivals unless we know they are winners. Remind me to tell you about the Jerk Cookout in London some day.

HBMTN
09-22-2010, 12:55 PM
The two real food vendors doing it this year did it in past years, there was a 3rd and it was a guy I know who could not do it this year but said it was profitably for him even though it rained. They are charging $50 for a vending space, I am paying $100 because I wanted 20ft x 20ft instead of 10ft x 10ft. It is my first time festival vending. For this price I feel to give it a try I can't go wrong. I am thinking about cooking 18 to 24 butts and 3 to 4 briskets. Previous BBQ guy sold out from 10am til 1:30pm with 13 butts and chicken wings (not sure on amounts), if I don't sell all or do good I can go to my roadside vending place on Sunday and sell what is left.

Jerk Pit Master
09-22-2010, 09:17 PM
Remind me to tell you about the Jerk Cookout in London some day.

Hopefully it was better than my experience at the Jerk Festival in South Florida a few years ago.

Anyway these Fall festivals are "typically" a low rent, average attendance type of event. My approach is typically to work them alone or with 1 helper and plan on $600 - $1000 in sales. I use it primarily for additional exposure and promoting my catering business. Plenty of signage and business cards.

PorkQPine
09-23-2010, 09:01 AM
Please post how you did at the festival as well as how the turnout was and how the promoters promises turned out. It will be a learning experience for everyone on the forum and will be appreciated.

Dr_KY
09-25-2010, 02:59 AM
Hopefully it was better than my experience at the Jerk Festival in South Florida a few years ago.

Anyway these Fall festivals are "typically" a low rent, average attendance type of event. My approach is typically to work them alone or with 1 helper and plan on $600 - $1000 in sales. I use it primarily for additional exposure and promoting my catering business. Plenty of signage and business cards.


Let's just say that in previous years vendors had people lined up with well over an hour wait for food and were happy to do so. There were twenty vendors busting it out from start to finish so this year the organizer bumped the number of vendors up to 30 and increased the pitch price.

Sounded good but on the day we found out that there were over 60 vendors!!!!! plus there was no music or PA system. Now that was bad yet to our surprise there was another Jamaican event on THE SAME DAY for the first time not five miles up the road. Over half the attendance was lost to that event.

People are serious creatures of habit on this island, the vendors that did the most trade on the day were two local restaurants that attend every year.

I'm still waiting on my security deposit to be returned.

Dr_KY
09-25-2010, 03:02 AM
The two real food vendors doing it this year did it in past years, there was a 3rd and it was a guy I know who could not do it this year but said it was profitably for him even though it rained. They are charging $50 for a vending space, I am paying $100 because I wanted 20ft x 20ft instead of 10ft x 10ft. It is my first time festival vending. For this price I feel to give it a try I can't go wrong. I am thinking about cooking 18 to 24 butts and 3 to 4 briskets. Previous BBQ guy sold out from 10am til 1:30pm with 13 butts and chicken wings (not sure on amounts), if I don't sell all or do good I can go to my roadside vending place on Sunday and sell what is left.


Sounds like you have a good eye on it. Please let us know how it all turns out and perhaps throw in some helpful tips for others venturing out.

HBMTN
10-10-2010, 09:56 AM
Well we did it yesterday and the stars lined up for us. We had great weather 79 degrees and sunny. I woke up Friday morning at 4am and loaded the pit, cooked all day Friday then Friday night loaded the pit again and cooke all night Friday night. I ended up with 1 hour sleep. We got set up andready to go by 8:30am Saturday morning to start selling @ 10am. by 11:30am we only had a couple sales but after that holy cow there was 3 of us working the trailer and were covered up. My mother in-law was stopped by and we drafted her to help the rest of the day so we had 4 people in my 7 x 16 trailer tight but we made it work. I cooked 30 butts, 3 brisket, and some pig candy. We sold pork sandwiches $5 Dinners $7 LB $11.50 Brisket Sandwiches $6 Dinners $8 Pork Sundae's $6 Pig Candy $3 Canned drinks for $1. Sold all except 1 butt and one brisket by closing @ 4pm. We grossed $2450 and was over double the sales we have ever done in a day. Turns out for this event the organizer did not lie ablout crowds of 5000-7000 there was at least that there. Thanks for all the advice, next weekend we are doing a 3 day fall festival I am borrowing a 2nd pit from a friend.

thillin
10-10-2010, 11:32 AM
Congrats! Sell more sandwiches than dinners? How did you handle the pre-cooked meat? Hot in cambros, or reheating in the pit? Hope next week is a hit as well!

HBMTN
10-10-2010, 07:46 PM
181 pork sand, 78 dinners, 8 1/2lbs, 36lbs, 23 brisket sand, 8 dinners, 8 pork sundae's, 5 pig cadies(did not make much), 84 with slaws, 129 drinks, 7 16oz containers of sauce

pre cooked 16 butts pulled and reheated on smoker and the rest cooked day of.

HBMTN
10-12-2010, 08:09 PM
Well this concessions sure has it's highs and lows. I've been on a three day high and I have been here planning this coming weekend (a larger festival). Turns out that my costs for supplies and labor are almost exactly what my profit was this past weekend. So I guess I still have not made any money yet :shock:. Could go to this one and flop and be a wasted 2 weeks of work. The gut wrenching knife in my stomach has started to turn again. I think I like the catering better, I know who I am cooking for, when, where, how much to cook and how much I'm making and all up front.

Jerk Pit Master
10-13-2010, 08:11 PM
Glad it worked out. Not a bad showing at all.

bobaftt
11-18-2010, 07:05 PM
how did you make out on the second festival?

MariettaSmoker
11-19-2010, 09:13 AM
how did you make out on the second festival?

Please tell..Im seriously considering this option as well as catering. I just need to get started.

Dr_KY
11-20-2010, 10:10 AM
Well this concessions sure has it's highs and lows. I've been on a three day high and I have been here planning this coming weekend (a larger festival). Turns out that my costs for supplies and labor are almost exactly what my profit was this past weekend. So I guess I still have not made any money yet :shock:. Could go to this one and flop and be a wasted 2 weeks of work. The gut wrenching knife in my stomach has started to turn again. I think I like the catering better, I know who I am cooking for, when, where, how much to cook and how much I'm making and all up front.


Congrats on the event.:cool: That feeling you are having is another reason why we have turned mostly to catering. Last year we did some vending and made a nice sack of cash only to turn around two weeks later spending it on the next event and ending up in the red.

PorkQPine
11-20-2010, 10:43 AM
Well this concessions sure has it's highs and lows. I've been on a three day high and I have been here planning this coming weekend (a larger festival). Turns out that my costs for supplies and labor are almost exactly what my profit was this past weekend. So I guess I still have not made any money yet :shock:. Could go to this one and flop and be a wasted 2 weeks of work. The gut wrenching knife in my stomach has started to turn again. I think I like the catering better, I know who I am cooking for, when, where, how much to cook and how much I'm making and all up front.

If I am reading this correctly you broke even after all the work :( I would re-think the pricing and brisket. I would drop the brisket, and add a dollar to the price for sandwiches, drop the dinners and add 50cents to the drink price. I would also add smoked hot dogs and hot links since they can be done on-site and cook quickly.

CivilWarBBQ
11-20-2010, 05:11 PM
Well this concessions sure has it's highs and lows. I've been on a three day high and I have been here planning this coming weekend (a larger festival). Turns out that my costs for supplies and labor are almost exactly what my profit was this past weekend. So I guess I still have not made any money yet :shock:. Could go to this one and flop and be a wasted 2 weeks of work. The gut wrenching knife in my stomach has started to turn again. I think I like the catering better, I know who I am cooking for, when, where, how much to cook and how much I'm making and all up front.


Congratulations on grasping that reality quickly ~ I wish I could say we learned that lesson before wasting a lot more time and money. If the purpose of vending is to make money, then BBQ is just about the worst possible food item you could choose.

You bust your ass for three days to make a third of the profit the hot dog guy earns for a single day's easy labor. No thank you! The only vending jobs we do any more are charity gigs that we take for PR purposes.

chopshop
11-20-2010, 10:48 PM
i think you undercharged for everything. i get $7-8 for a sandwich, depending on where i am. i dont do sandwich dinners, i just sell the sides and i get $3 a side. I do 1,2 and 3 meat dinners. teasers,1/3, 1/2 and full racks and i usually sell full racks for $22-$26. i know the prices are high but so are my fees for the event and people never have a problem paying. I also sell pig candy and i get $3 for 2 sciles and ill go through 90 lb of bacon in a day. oh yeah pork and brisket $16 a pound. believe me people will pay you just gotta have the balls to ask them. balls are what make the difference in whether you make money or not, that and the weather.

Dr_KY
11-21-2010, 06:14 AM
Wow I wish I could get that over here! Great BBQ isn't appreciated simply because burger and kebab vans are all over the place thus they accept that as good food. People here also work on the pint rule. If they are paying more than the price of a pint of lager or cider then they would rather buy the drink. Sad but true.
There are some people that have turned the corner locally but it's taken time to do so.

As for festivals I looked for those that didn't allow food in and had a captive audience for at least two days. Some of the music festivals here are more on the hippie side thus substance abuse is the norm and you know those people tend not to eat as much.

jestridge
11-21-2010, 08:10 AM
If some of you vendors live close by , this is a huge event for 4 days/nights, never have seen any bbq there
www.chickenfestival.com

HBMTN
11-21-2010, 08:55 AM
PorkQPine, my cost for the 2nd (larger) event was arounf what my profit from the 1st festival was. It was a Fri, Sat, Sun on the 2nd event. My cost for the 2nd event ended up a little higher coming in around $1900 I ended up paying out more in wages because I needed help longer than I had expectedm which was a good thing. We ended up grossing $4200 at the second event, $900 on Fri, $2100 on Sat and $1200 on Sun. All in all we cleared about $3700 for the two events. But I will say that all the stars lined up for us both weekends and everything went right. I can definatly see there is a lot of risk. All it would have taken was a little rain on two Saturdays and I could have lost my A$$. Not to mention how many hours of labor my wife and I put into both weekends. Hope this helps people by being an example of what you can make and what the risks can be and how much work is involves. I love BBQ and can work it 100 hours and not feel like a job so if you are not like that then don't consider doing it.

PorkQPine
11-21-2010, 01:09 PM
I thought you were saying that your expenses were what your gross was, gald to hear that you were in the black after two events. It is hard work but rewarding. I still would raise my prices and I always worry about vending brisket since it costs so much. I have done some benefit vending where people shared a hot dog so I know the economy hurts a lot of people but you can't give your food away. A lot of us use the 3x or 4x cost rule when pricing.

chopshop
11-22-2010, 07:17 PM
see here in this are we sell as much brisket as we do pork. when i head down to virginia, especially south west virginia i wont even bother bringing brisket with me. its funny i still have it on the sign and i can honestly say that not one person asks for it. pork is king for those guys. remember one thing, you can only sell as much food as you can handle. depending on what kind of equipment you have and the amount of people you have working you might only be able to heat so much food and sell so many meals or sandwich per hour. besides the amount of people at an event alot of people forget the biggest factor and thats what you can actually handle. it took me about 6 events to realize what my maximum amount of food i could handle. 50,000 is great but if you have a small smoker and no other way to heat the food then it really wouldnt matter if there was only 10,000. figure out what you could really handle with your equipment then shoot for events that fit your needs. i do an event in DC that draws 250,000 people and the cost of everything is through the roof. you have to be able to move some product just to be able to break even. if you cant move what you need to break even then there is no point of going.