Concession season is just around the corner. Now is the time to start early activities like scheduling events. Though, small summer festivals often don’t get organized until later in the spring, some larger events have already done so, and are ready to start booking their concessions for this coming season. In fact, many set a February or March deadline for new applications. So, if you plan to book food booth space at some of the well established, larger events there is no time to lose.
It wasn’t long ago when concessionaires used the telephone – with cord – to search for, query, and request applications for event food booth space. The job was time consuming and frequently non-productive.
Thankfully, the internet has changed that. State tourism departments now make available online their public event listing; once available only on hardcopy. There are also dozens of searchable event listing websites. One of my favorites is: www.festivalnet.com. In addition to their vast database of events, this comprehensive website is a trove of information for vendors. The problem I have with online listing is; not all events are listed. It’s no fault of the website, but rather, because it is up to event organizers to list their event. Small, local events that don’t want a flood of queries from artists, musicians, craftspeople, bands, booking agents, and food vendors, simply don’t bother. However, these small events are sometimes quite lucrative for small to moderate food concessionaires because they are less expensive and have fewer competitors. It takes a little sleuthing to learn about these gems. Most are promoted locally, such as; with the chamber of commerce, on the city or county website, or in the local newspaper. Other worthwhile events may be listed on special interest websites, such as; car shows, horse shows, sporting events, etc. Another favorite, tried and true event listing resource is Drake Fair Guides. Drake Publications, www.drakefairguides.com, has been putting out event guidebooks for each of the western states for over twenty years. The information is unbiased, detailed and accurate. And, because Drake has been in the business a long time, is a regionally based company, and doesn’t wait around to be contacted by event coordinators, many small, local events are listed in their guide.
Once you learn about an event it takes more research to learn if it is appropriate for your concession, and to estimate its profit potential. In the days of pre-internet this was done by directly questioning the coordinator. Now, many events have websites that provide answers to questions vendors typically ask, like: the event’s date, attendance, location, and schedule of activities. Information about the vendor space fee, vendor policy, and a downloadable booth space application is usually also available. All this information makes it possible to pre-screen your entire event schedule without using your business voice.