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Selling food at festivals?

bcrawfo2bcrawfo2 Posts: 85
edited 5:57AM in EggHead Forum
Has anyone ever researched the steps required to sell food at a festival?
This question came to me after I paid $7 for a pulled pork sandwich that was made in a crock pot. It was NOT $7 good. $7 can buy about 7 pounds of butt which can make a LOT of sandwiches.

Are there usually local health code type permits? How does this work if you're cooking at home?
Festival permits?

It just seems too easy to make a few hundred bucks in an afternoon...selling food 10x better than other people are offering.


  • I once sold food at a festival, i bought a burrito buggy and sold tons and tons of them without any licesnse. BUT, I eventually got caught which was bad because I had other outstanding warrants for things that were unrelated to food and things. Needless to say, I spent the night in a local jail cell only to end up meeting my future lover. SO, in the end, it kinda worked out. But, I would always tell you to make sure you have all of your shoes and glasses so you have them, if you know what I mean.
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    Despite the tongue in cheek response from our anonymous poster he/she/it is partly right.

    First: You are not allowed to prepare food for the public at your home, unless you have a separate commercial kitchen at home.

    Second: You will need insurance..

    Third: You need a commercial setup that complies with local health codes

    Fourth: You need a permit to sell food.

    It is not a cheap venture. Which is why that crocked pork pot sandwich cost you $7.00. In the past three years I have invested around $10,000 in my catering business..
  • CBBQCBBQ Posts: 610
    I just got done doing a three weekend long festival and what CW tells you is accurate. To be even more specific.
    First you have to pay for your space at the fair, which can run into the hundreds of dollars. If like 2 of the 6 days of my recent fair gets rained out, it's too bad.
    Second, almost all fairs take a 10% or more cut of your sales. If you sell at a NASCAR event they can take up to 40% of your gross. That and taxes have to be figured in, so for my recent fair 17% came right off the top.
    Third, you have to pay permit fees to even sell food at a fair, usually $50-100.
    If you don't have a licensed kitchen you can't even chop an onion before or at the fair. Everything has to be bought and sold with only cooking allowed. So a lot of times things like pulled pork are bought pre-cooked from places like SYSCO or US Foods. If it is more than a single day event you have to remove and store any uncooked meat in a licensed facility. You eat anything you cook and don't sell. They usually check your food receipts to make sure that the meat was bought the day of or 1 day before the event. Some events require you but meat and drinks from them or their supplier.
    You usually have to carry a minimum of 1 million in liability insurance and you have to insure the city/venue along with the organization holding the event. You have to show proof of insurance before they'll even let you open up. That can run $35-100 per event. Then you deal with the health dept. That's whay, as the Wolf said, you can end up paying $7 for a ordinary, pre-processed pulled pork sandwich at a fair.
  • NoVA BillNoVA Bill Posts: 3,005
    CW and CBBQ,

    Thank you for very enlightening posts!!
  • You can get insurance for around $100-$150. I just checked this week. That was for 1/2 mil.

    Some places let you get a 1 day permit but you need wash stations, walls, and stuff like that. We have done some BBQ contest where they have a peoples choice and they give you a one day food permit. You can look into that possibly.
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    That would be $150-$200 per event and a 1/2 mil won't cover much. After a few events you might as well just get an annual policy.

    What they allow at BBQ Comps is a whole lot different then what they allow at Festivals. For instance I never had to show a SafeServ Certificate for People Choice. I have at some events I have catered.
  • Thanks everyone. That still doesn't make that sorry PP taste any better.
  • CBBQCBBQ Posts: 610
    I'm glad to know what insurance cost on a one-off event. Since I have commercial insurance for my bbq business my additional cost per event is to cover the event and the venue from liability.
    Wash stations and sanitizer testing are also a big part of it. They also come around and stick thermopens into your products and if it ain't right they can make you toss it.
    The other thing I failed to mention was the food loss when you've cooked things and then it storms or the crowd just dies. You can give it away, eat it or toss it but you can't sell it after that day.
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