Food festivals are on the rise. Whether it’s cultural food, food truck rodeos, regional cuisines or specialty items like cheese (even mac ‘n’ cheese), food festivals draw in hordes of attendees. The appeal is obvious—everyone likes food and tasting a multitude of dishes in one spot is exciting and enjoyable.
But going from table to table outside in the elements, sampling different twists on the same ingredient can turn into a slog for attendees. Add variety with a breakout event—such as a cooking demonstration, a wine or beer pairing or even a sit-down, coursed-out meal. Breakout events offer a welcome distraction and a good way for attendees to recharge their batteries. A breakout event can also act as an additional revenue stream.
Before you add one to your festival, evaluate your resources and make a plan of attack. Treat your breakout like a completely separate event. This might mean relinquishing the organizing duties to a trusted crew member or bringing in a professional.
Once you figure out who’s doing what, it’s time to get all of the details in place.
Food Festival Event Tips
1. You’ll need a strong crew that can work independently to organize and pull off your breakout event. In other words, they need to focus on it, like it’s the main event. If you’re low on staff, this can be a challenge so consider this resource before committing to anything. Go over every detail and rehearse the event to work out the bugs. Expect issues to arise and have backup plans in place.
2. Promote, promote, promote. Festivals are busy, so be clear about your special breakout event. Get the word out early and pour it on. Ask sponsors, friends and other involved parties to promote via social media, as well as word of mouth. For event promotion advice, contact our promotions team.
3. Star power can help sell tickets. Reach out to local celebs—talk recognized chefs, radio or TV personalities, sports figures or government officials. Put together a proper proposal and send it to whoever fits with your event’s brand. Offer to include them in the official advertising efforts, include branding and logos, and announcement mentions. Don’t let speaking fees turn you off –partnering with a celebrity can boost ticket sales.
4. Consider the perceived value. When a ticket buyer is looking into your event it should be clear what they are getting for the ticket price—perks such as wine or beer with each course, exclusive access to celebrities, special tasting, take home goodies, etc. or anything else that can enhance the perceived value.
5. Don’t over complicate it. Find a solid and simple concept that your attendees will be familiar with, such as a cider or wine pairing. It will make your event easier to execute and for you to find people to help organize it. The overall concept should be simple, but you can spice it up with simple variations—just make sure your expectations and timeline are realistic.
Have a question about food festivals or breakout events? Chime in below or email me.