Taste of Chicago Festival from 2005

Getting Into the Food Festival Game

Taste of Chicago 2014 map, from TasteOfChicago.us

Taste of Chicago 2014 map, from TasteOfChicago.us

Those long, warm summer nights are upon us, and consumers are looking for exciting ways to enjoy them. Among other summertime activities, millions of Americans will choose to attend a food festival.

One of the world’s largest, The Taste of Chicago, will be held this year July 9th through the 13th in Grant Park. It will feature 66 restaurants representing the gambit of Chicago food royalty from the iconic Lou Malnati’s Pizza to new-comers M Burger and The Big Cheese Poutinerie. In 2013 the festival attracted 1.5 million very hungry people.

Consider Joining a Local Food Festival

You don’t have to be in Chicago to reap the benefits of a great food festival. Many small restaurants look to local fairs and festivals to expose the public to their everyday food offerings. Industry website FairsAndFestivals.net has an exhaustive listing of food and festivals nationwide that may appeal to you – from cultural, holiday or event celebrations to craft fairs. Once you find a festival that could fit your operation, searching individual festival websites can then usually point you to the correct contact people, fees (exhibitors or local permits) or requirements (including insurance) for that event.

Why exhibit at a food festival? Good question. Realize that you are not only selling the food at your festival booth (with exposure to hundreds or thousands of potential customers), but also the concept of your restaurant and the full experience one will have at your traditional location year-round. Give the consumer a ‘taste‘ and convert them into a loyal fan!

What should you serve? Consider signature dishes and recipes that are unlikely to be found elsewhere at the festival. Go daring, but keep a mass appeal. Find a couple of items that will attract attention for their uniqueness. FairsAndFestivals.net notes that it is miss with a unique ethnic dish.

How do I do this? Even if you’re not setup for a full mobile operation, there are many ways to still serve up a quality and food-safe product with minimal additional equipment investment. Perhaps you can pre-cook or partially cook your food items at your restaurant or other location. Maybe add your signature sauce to a simple hot dog or hamburger. Or, choose a cold dish that requires little on-site preparation.

Helpful Equipment From Central Restaurant

Whatever approach you take, Central has all the equipment and supplies that you’ll need for a successful festival booth whether you exhibit once a year or decide to hit the festival circuit.

Magicater 60

Magicater 60″ Wide Commercial Outdoor Gas Grill

Whatever you decide, remember that Central Restaurant has a team of product consultants ready to help you plan your festival food booth needs. Give them a call at 800-215-9293, tell them what you want to do…and they will provide solutions that meet your needs and budget.

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