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Applications For Festivals and Fairs For Food Concessionaires

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You are committed to being a food concessionaire. You have purchased a mobile food concession stand, made it sparkle inside and out, created a unique and highly creative menu – you’re ready to become the world’s most successful food concessionaire!

With confidence you have filled out the on-line application for the biggest fair in your state. The next thing you feel is this pain in your stomach as you read an email stating that your application has been rejected. You do not understand why!

One of the most difficult challenges that new food concession operators face is how to find venues such as fairs, festivals, and other events and then how to convince the management of those venues that it is in their best interests to have them attend. The management of fairs and festivals are always walking a tight rope, balancing what worked before with keeping their venue new and exciting for their visitors.

Try not to get overly frustrated. Filling out concession forms for fairs and festivals can be likened to sending out resumes. In the beginning you have to send out a lot in order to get a response from a few and in the same manner as a resume, you have to sell yourself and your food concession - why should be chosen over one of your competitors.

Many festivals and fairs consider the food concessions to be a major drawing card to their venue. If you, as a new food concession operator, are providing nothing more than a "me to" menu with nothing new, exciting or out of the ordinary you will definitely have an uphill challenge to obtain space. New and exciting does not have to mean some exotic food, although a new or unusual food concept is usually a fair management grabber, it can mean a well or uniquely decorated trailer, or unusual outfits for the staff. Always be careful if you are trying to promote anything that is audio oriented, theme music can be seen as a negative by some fair managers.

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I always suggest that food concessionaires produce a small but meaningful electronic brochure, showing what their food concession trailer looks like, inside and out, outlining the menu and prices, and how many customers can be served per hour. This gives the fair management a feeling that you are professional and that you take the food concession business seriously.

Very few festivals or fairs have fulltime management and in many cases management are volunteers. If you can identify and meet with the management in order to sell yourself face to face, it will go a long way to securing you a food concession spot at the fair.

Remember to leverage any relationships that you have that might provide you with some leverage. Are you a member of an association such as the Rotary club? In many cases local clubs and groups sponsor or are a meaningful part of a county fair. Your membership in an affiliated organization might get you access to a face to face meeting with the fair management!

The last point is to keep in mind that you are or should be in the food concession business for the long haul. If you are rejected by a local fair – visit that fair, see what other food concession operations are doing, take notes of how you differ. Introduce yourself to the fair management – Next year’s fair comes quicker than you think!

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