Most of us appreciate a good meal or a few drinks, but putting on a fantastic food or drink festival takes more than just a few food trucks and a keg of beer.
Your festival must take tourists on a well-designed epicurean journey, demonstrate creativity and innovation, and have enough features to give them a complete “holiday” if you want to attract people.
We’ve asked the organizers of several of the UK’s best-known food events to share their secrets to success. This article outlines the factors that make up a perfect food and drink festival…
“We’re working hard to ensure the festival is good for local businesses, spending money on the local economy, as well as creating engaging and interactive experiences for patrons through our extensive free outdoor activities. This is not to say that we do not welcome international partners, but only through reciprocal relationships, such as restaurant chef exchanges and participation in other major food festivals around the world.”
“In recent years, we have cooperated with the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Italy, Jersey, the United States, Gibraltar and Canada, with a relationship with Saint Lucia on the horizon. Through our work around the world, we produce tremendous culinary PR for the UK regions we work in, highlighting our country as a leading food tourism destination.”
“However, one thing you notice about today’s elite chefs is that they are expensive; They are like pop stars. It’s complicated, as consumers typically pay four times more for a concert than for a food festival.
“When you’re trying to attract celebrity bakers, you have two options: make it accessible to all guests and charge just for the tents, or charge for the entire event. We have chosen to charge the entrance to individuals and offer them the highest possible value. And now, at the Bakewell Show Ground, it’s all in one place.
“By charging just £75 a day to display and offer electricity discounts, we make it very accessible for small retailers. We strive to reproduce the atmosphere of a large village party. We do not want to follow the path of companies. I’ve tried it before with sponsors, and it can be quite tricky. The challenge is finding the right fit with a sponsor; can affect your environment.
“Creating the right environment is essential. People are encouraged to decorate their stalls. Vintage works great with pastries to create a truly British motif, with bunting and balloons. We don’t want it to feel too corporate, and I think our visitors love the intimate atmosphere.”
The most popular food and drink festivals have changed over time, mainly due to feedback from visitors. Listening to what your customers want and making changes to meet their demands helps ensure everyone has a great time at your event.
When it comes to effectively promoting your festival, social media is the most effective strategy out there. Follow the industry experts and learn how to use them.
“Respond to all inquiries, emails and social media communications – both positive and negative – and treat your online followers with respect. By offering excellent customer service, you can quickly convert haters into fans of your event.
“Lastly, regularly ask for input from attendees and vendors; if you don’t, you won’t know how to develop and grow your event.
“Our food festival is one of a kind and targets a specific demographic; there are no other food festivals like this at the moment!” Free From Event is the UK’s first gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free culinary festival.