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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 08-03-2010, 04:57 PM   #1
Rub My Butt
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Festival vending...is it worth it? I understand this is a very broad and subjective question but still...

My wife and I are wanting to start vending at festivals. We have enough events in the immediate area to keep us busy on average, 1 weekend a month. The events range from 5000 - 100000 people. What have you found to be an actual customer percentage from attendees?

So in general is everybody making a profit? Is cooking and talking to customers still fun or does business take all the fun away?

Thanks
Ronnie
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Unread 08-03-2010, 05:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rub My Butt View Post
Festival vending...is it worth it? I understand this is a very broad and subjective question but still...

My wife and I are wanting to start vending at festivals. We have enough events in the immediate area to keep us busy on average, 1 weekend a month. The events range from 5000 - 100000 people. What have you found to be an actual customer percentage from attendees?

So in general is everybody making a profit? Is cooking and talking to customers still fun or does business take all the fun away?

Thanks
Ronnie
It all depends, and I'm sure Ford and some of the other guys will weigh in. For me, you need to make sure you have the rig to handle the volume and health requirements. Need to understand your costs (Food, labor, supplies, fuel, insurance, etc) and be able to forecast against these costs, plus the vendor fees or percentage for the gig. Also need to be mentally prepared for all the work, problems, and surprises (Weather, crowd, etc). We won't go unless we are sure we will turn a profit - The interaction with the public is a lot of fun, but "Mr. Green" needs to show up. The vendor fees out here have taken us out of a lot of vending events. (Example - Long Beach Grand Prix is now $3400 for 3 days, plus 28% of your sales, paid daily. Booth size is 10x15)
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Unread 08-03-2010, 06:24 PM   #3
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I agree with C Rocke, be prepared for anything. I'm new to this as well and was just invited to be the only BBQ vendor at an annual event that host 85,000-90K people annually. It's a one day gig, so I'm thinking what can I fix hot and fast and keep it moving. On the other hand it's going to be a guessing game on how much food to prepare, I'm thinking hot and fast brisket flats and just selling sandwiches and moink balls.
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Unread 08-04-2010, 07:26 AM   #4
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Festivals are a crap shoot. When they are good they are great and you can make a lot of cash. When it goes south it does so real quick and you lose money. As Chris said you need the equipment. Not just to store and cook everything but to freeze meat if it doesn't sell. The HD is the first step and you need to understand all the rules of holding very thoroughly.

Example last year we had a local event and did great. This year they changed the day by one day from Sunday to Saturday and made a small location change. I lost a lot of money but at least had the freezers to keep product for reheating. Same number of people at the festival but very different results. Both days were good weather. Get rain at a weekend festival with a fixed fee of $500 or $1000 and you may not even make that amount back. I know when it's time to order perishables like buns to wait until the last second. You can send somebody for more. Still can get stuck with 20-30 dozen if things don't work. they go to charity but no deduction there as you already wrote off the cost against profits.

You need to visit those events but take notes. How many vendors? What do they sell? Does business look good? Talk to them if you can.

And to your last question. I love cooking BBQ but it's work to cook 6 cases of butts a day for 3 straight days. You can put in 18-20 hour days cooking. So it's not fun and it's very demanding. But it is fun selling to people and talking about BBQ with customers. Just wish I was at the window not with the cookers.
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Unread 08-04-2010, 09:33 AM   #5
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I enjoy vending at festivals as long as the fees are reasonable the setup location is logistically easy to work with. I agree with everything that Ford has to say about it. My view is that festivals are great advertising for the catering business as you are really doing paid tastings for potential catering customers.
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Unread 08-04-2010, 12:00 PM   #6
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You cannot make money doing an event here and there. It is a business and not a hobby. Like any business you will hit home runs and take some up the rear. This is not something that you can do one or two a summer and buy a new car. You may get lucky and be able to but not likely. If you are looking for an easy way to make money this is not it. Pulling of 600lbsof pork butts in the morning and having to pull them is not fun. Forget about having 500 racks of ribs ready for the weekend that really sucks!!! But it is all fun at the end of the event!! Good Luck
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Unread 08-08-2010, 04:21 PM   #7
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These guys have hit it dead on!

This year we have backed away from festivals due to cost and have gone after the large local events like biker rally's and town carnival /events. This allows for a captive audience and somewhere local to shop when you run low on product.

We started out swinging a big stick and trying to do far too many options.
Around here pulled pork is still not the norm but the English love a hog roast so we smoke butts/necks to slicing temp then offer apple sauce or stuffing with it. The savings on sauce alone makes it well worth doing not to mention less time and labor. Momma picked up a meat slicer and now portion control is paying off. Burgers and sausages are also huge sellers but we will throw in lamb of brisket if we know the event can handle it.
There is always a brisket in the smoker for those that return and are taken by the quality of our food, we then offer them brisket of lamb as an alternative and it soon sells out.

What I'm saying is start off with a small selection of what you do best the go from there.
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