Well, as some of you may know I had a peanut brittle booth at the 4th Avenue Street Fair this year. I want to report to the food vendors about food vending at this event in Tucson, Arizona. As you know the 4th Avenue Street Fair is huge. It occurs twice a year one in December and then in the spring, usually in March. Competition to get into this event is very very high and there is a intense jury process that starts at Zapp For years I have hesitated in trying to get into this event as I believed the process to be too difficult - after all peanut brittle is a food product. My product is however pre-packaged and currently I have a wholesale food license from the state of Colorado. This license gives me a right to sell anywhere in the USA, including the 4th Avenue Street Fair in Tucson. Now, the 4th Avenue Merchants Association takes good care of its potential food vendors - and acts as a buffer between the Pima Health Department and the 4th Avenue event. My experience with the Pima Health Department in this regard was nothing short of dismal. Don't call them if you want into this street fair. Please just fill out the Zapp Application and once accepted into the show follow the instructions of the Merchants Association. Calling the Pima Health Department is a waste of time. They sincerely appear to not know what they are doing. I tried a few times. It appears that some of the people answering the phone there do not even know about this street fair. This is dismal. This fair is huge and very near the downtown area. Then there is a question of what regulations to follow at the street fair regarding screening in your booth. The Pima County Health Department told me one thing and the street fair another. Since the street fair is successful and its their venue - do what they tell you. So if you are a new food vendor hesitating because of the regulations concerning food vending in Arizona, and you want to do this event, just contact the Merchants Association and leave the Pima Health Department out of the loop. This is a great event for a new food vendor to do especially if you have a great new product that has not been at the street fair before.
Well, I survived. I always wanted to do the 4th Avenue Street Fair in Tucson with my peanut brittle. I have been making and selling homemade peanut brittle for about forever. It is made in the shape of Christmas Wreaths, mostly, decorated and put into white sturdy pizza boxes. The Street Fair was to say the least an experience. Did I make money? Well, yes, but not as much as I had thought I would. It had been awhile since I had attended or looked at the street fair. The crowds are enormous. People go from Speedway to the bridge down 4th Avenue in droves and come back the other way in droves. I am convinced the crowds come a lot because the weather is usually great in Tucson this time of year. A lot of people attending the street fair are winter residents getting away from the cold northern climates. I must say I was rather disappointed in a lot of the booths quality. If I was running the fair I would be much harder in the jurying of the booths. A lot of the booths were great and had a good appearance and good quality stuff. Unfortunately, many had the atmosphere and presentation of a flea market quality. This street fair has been around a long long time and in my opinion it ought to present a more professional higher quality vendor. There was no help in getting me out of there after the fair was over either. The police seemed annoyed and bothered by the vendors trying to disassemble after the event. I ended up taking out my stuff by myself a block and a half in a hand cart. It was pretty impossible to drive down the street and pick up my stuff. Will I do it again? I don't know. It was physically and mentally exhausting. Besides, I rediscovered the fact that vendors for the most part are second class citizens for some reason. Its a shame because some of the vendors are really great artists and great art is important.
Okay, Here I go again. Some of you know that I make a wonderful food product. I make Peanut Brittle and Agava Peanut Brittle. Last year I had a state of Colorado wholesale food license to sell it in the state of Colorado. With this license I could sell in stores and do most of the craft events in the state. Some of the events had specific county rules however. Now I want to do the 4th Avenue Street Fair in Tucson this December and the Green Valley Farmers Market, in Green Valley, Arizona. Now for those of you in the know, you know that this is a big undertaking. You have to have the booth,make sure it is weather secure, the tables, the signage, the product and all the supplies. BUT, what is the worst of this whole experience is the getting the licensing!!!!! There is a audio interview from the 4th Avenue Merchants Association from last year about selling food at the Fourth Avenue Street Fairs.The interview kinda makes it seem as if the process is fairly easy. Somehow I "think" not. I kinda of get the feeling that Pima County and Tucson doesn't want any more food vendors and that will do anything they can do to prevent me from selling my Peanut Brittle. So here we go again, this is "exactly" why I have done this before. I have a wonderful product. So first they tell me online I need a "Temporary Food Establishment License" BUT first I need a Business License before I can get the Temporary Food Establishment license. Of course, they are not telling me - or even suggesting WHERE I get the Business License from. WATCH for my next post - and if you know something about this stuff - leave a comment. I am thinking that if I can get through the maze - maybe we will tackle another city and state next. That is if it doesn't kill me.