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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 09-20-2010, 07:38 PM   #1
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Default Question about festival vending

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.

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Unread 09-20-2010, 08:31 PM   #2
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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.
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Unread 09-20-2010, 08:35 PM   #3
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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.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 01:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBrad View Post
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 rounds there back then...
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Unread 09-21-2010, 01:57 AM   #5
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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.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 07:59 AM   #6
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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.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 01:05 PM   #7
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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.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 01:06 PM   #8
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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.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 05:09 PM   #9
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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.
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Unread 09-22-2010, 03:27 AM   #10
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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.
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Unread 09-22-2010, 12:55 PM   #11
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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.
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Unread 09-22-2010, 09:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr_KY View Post
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.
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Unread 09-23-2010, 09:01 AM   #13
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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.
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Unread 09-25-2010, 02:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerk Pit Master View Post
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.
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Unread 09-25-2010, 03:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HBMTN View Post
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.
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