Food truck festivals are events where visitors can sample foods from various businesses and enjoy other activities and entertainment. For food trucks, these events provide the opportunity to showcase your menu items to interested customers. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of these events.
What is a Food Truck Festival?
A food truck festival is an event where multiple food trucks come together in one location. This allows each visitor to find the best cuisine in their city or region. Many events also feature live music or other fun activities to appeal to guests.
Why You Should Sell at Food Truck Festivals
Food trucks can be set up in almost any location. Here are some reasons to consider this type of event:
- Reach new customers: Festival visitors are automatically interested in food truck cuisine. Many may not come across your business in your regular locations. But when they gather in one location, you can reach more interested diners.
- Target specific audiences: It can be tough for food trucks to determine the customer base in different locations. However, special events generally have more targeted marketing and they may even track who has attended before. So you can more carefully target your ideal audience.
- Increase brand visibility: Even if some visitors don’t try your food, they’ll at least walk by your truck and notice your branding and menu. Some may follow you on social media or make a mental note to stop by next time.
- Enjoy an easy sign-up process: Festivals often have fees and requirements for vendors. But they generally make it easy to sign up and ensure compliance. You shouldn’t have to search for permits or work hard to find out whether you can set up in a specific location.
How to Attend a Food Truck Festival
If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of food festivals, here are some steps to get started:
- Research events in your area.
- Reach out to organizers or submit an online application.
- Gather required documents like insurance and business permits. Check other requirements for your specific event.
- Update your location on social media and food truck finder apps.
Food businesses generally need a license through their local health department. You may also need a vending permit from the local government where the festival is located. Event organizers may include these details as part of the vendor application, or at least point you toward the proper government agencies.
10 Best Food Truck Festivals in America to Attend
Communities around the country host these events for food trucks. Many also include extras like eating contests, live music, craft beer and other beverages, and fun activities for families. You can find options in your area through food truck finder apps and online searches, but here are some of the top events throughout the U.S.
1. Columbus Food Truck Festival
The Columbus Food Truck Festival takes place at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Ohio each summer. This year’s 11th annual festival is three days full of food, music, and fun, from August 19-21.
2. Salt River Fields
The Street Eats Food Truck Festival takes place at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona each February. Trucks offer $2 samples along with other menu items, and there are kids’ activities, games, and music.
3. LA Food Fest
LA Food Fest is a trendy event for foodies at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. In addition to vendors, there’s a picnic area, photo booth, wine garden, and VIP lounge.
4. Chicago Food Truck Fest
The Chicago Food Truck Fest takes place in June and features family-friendly activities, a dog park, and a huge array of vendors in the city’s South Loop.
5. Eat the Street
Hosted by Street Grindz, Eat the Street takes place in Oahu and features a huge selection of food vendors on the last Friday of each month.
6. High Point Food Truck Rodeo
Hosted in Downtown High Point, North Carolina, the High Point Food Truck Rodeo offers food, live music, and activities for families.
7. Cape Cod Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival
The Cape Cod Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival takes place in August as part of the Barnstable County Fair. It’s open to anyone who loves eating, drinking, and entertainment.
8. Candler Park Music and Food Festival
Atlanta’s annual food truck event is the Candler Park Music and Food Festival, hosted this year in June. In addition to food, the event features music and an artist’s market.
9. Sea Isle City Food Truck Festival
New Jersey’s annual Sea Isle City Food Truck Festival takes place in August, featuring food, games, music, and crafters.
10. Seattle Street Food Festival
The Seattle Street Food Festival has been canceled the past few years but is normally one of the largest events in the country. It features four blocks of food, music, and makers for two days.
How to Boost Your Sales at a Food Truck Festival
If you want to be one of the best food trucks at the events you attend, these tips can help you boost sales.
Create Special Menu Items
Food truck customers love trying interesting combinations, so include unexpected ingredient combinations to draw in attendees. Additionally, consider small items that people can sample since they’re likely trying various options throughout the event.
Update Your Location Online
Get more loyal customers by updating your social media profiles and food finder apps. Include your handles on marketing materials at the event as well, so people can follow you in the future.
Event-goers want to get their food quickly and keep going, so make your menu easily visible and offer various payment options. Mobile ordering and payments can simplify the process and keep your line moving.
Create Memorable Branding and Signs
Draw in customers with bright colors, high contrast images, and catchy slogans. Post a large sign with your menu right outside your truck, and consider signage throughout the rest of the event as well.
Partner with Other Food Trucks
Many event attendees try food from multiple vendors, so make it easy for them to sample different kinds of cuisine. For example, create a “food tour” with trucks in different niches to suggest interesting dishes to sample.
How do food trucks get into festivals?
Each festival has a different process, but most allow vendors to apply online. You’ll likely need to submit a permit or license from your local health department and pay a vendor fee.
How much do food trucks make at festivals?
The amount you can earn at a food festival depends on the size of the event and your menu pricing. However, food trucks often earn $1,000 or more at moderately-sized events.
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