Having run numerous event from the village fete to a major in town held food festival. I've never once put quantity over quality. Clitheroe Food Festival has earned a great reputation because we came up with an aim, and we've stuck to it. Its not that difficult to do and your exhibitors and visitors will appreciate the extra time and effort you put into ensuring you deliver a great food and drink focused event. Here are some tips on creating a quality led event:
1. Research - get out and about, visit those farmers markets, mystery visit those farm shops, buy online your macaroons, cheese, chocolate, and visit the exhibitors at their premises whether they know or don't know about it. Do they buy from local suppliers, what is their staffs product knowledge like, are they just importing produce are they physically making their product. Build some rapport.
2. Look at who you place next to who - when laying out your stands how do you shop? When you buy bread, do you think of cheese, when you think of cheese do you think pickle, when you think pickle to you think pork pie, when you think pork pie do you think cider and so forth.
3. AVOID favouritism - one sure way to lose your reputation, be fair to everyone. I move all my exhibitors around every year, sure some complain but why should the favourites always get the best pitches? If you want extra money for certain pitches, fine just use a highest and best bids but you might not be popular with the rest.
4. Look after your exhibitors - keep them informed of your progress, involve them in your marketing plan, grab volunteers and help them off load and set up, make sure they all get loo breaks, a brew if its cold or a cold drink when its hot. Go and ask them - or at least if you are not being pulled about by others as many as you can anyway! DO NOT over duplicate your stands too many jam makers are you can get yourself into a right sticky mess!
5. Encourage them - to provide feedback, to tweet and Facebook, to collaborate with each other on produce to make new products even!
6. Keep an eye on proceedings - during set up, the event itself and break down. Watch out for who gets along with whom and visa versa, who has business knowledge they could help someone with, watch for pinch points too with your visitors for future reference. If your event area is only small think about applying timings to set up.
7. Maintain your database and keep in touch with your exhibitors. Knowledge is vital, especially about the competition!
8. Work with food and drink suppliers such as paper cup companies, napkin suppliers, printers, food writers and pass on special offers. Even better work with these guys well in advance they may pay you to promote them to your exhibitors.
9. Don't over charge for your stand - if your footfall is low don't over do it, but likewise if you do get the foot fall and people continually sell out great - keep your price held for as long as you can and encourage visitors to come earlier. Keep an eye on those who continually sell out though - not too great for your event.
10. Make your application forms simple - use Event Owl and save yourself some stress in the process!