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.
I sell Peanut Brittle Candy as a side business. Seems like a simple enough idea. Right? My peanut brittle is wonderful and the product cooks at 300 degrees. Now, in order to sell a product like this to stores in Colorado you need a Wholesale Food License and a Sales Tax License and a Business License. Having a wholesale food license gives you the right to sell to business across the country. It will also give you the right to do events in different states with just the wholesale license. We have made it difficult to get all this. The process is quite hard. First, in Colorado your product has to be made in a registered wholesale food manufacturin and/or storage facility. and it has to be approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. So how does the average person, with no experience find such a facility? The first thing is to find a local business that has a registered kitchen with the Colorado Department of Public Health. Then talk to the owner and explain to them what you want to do and make some kind of deal to give them a cut of your income. This actually is the easiest part of the whole thing. The easiest way to get started with this process is just to call the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability at 303-692-3620. They are very helpful and will tell you what to do. They cannot help you with sales tax however. More steps: apply for wholesale sales tax license Doing Events as a vendor in the State of Colorado I hate to say this, it depends on the county. Some counties will take your wholesale license and need nothing else. Other counties have a mound of paperwork for you to jump through. Call the public health department of the county in which you want to do the event. Sometimes getting to the right department can be tricky, you need to be persistent and tell them exactly what you want to do. To Get a Single Special Event License (Colorado) -- For a temporary location other than your regular business location and valid for one event only where there are three or more vendors. This is a two-year license which is free to all standard sales tax license holders. To apply for this use the Special Event Application (DR 0589) form or use our Special Events Fill-in Forms service. To Get a Multiple Special Event License -- If you [...]
Chili is generally a easy meal to make and , fun for some reason. Maybe the reason is that there is so many types and varieties. One of my best remembrances is of running chili cook offs in Arizona about 15 years ago. Chili is a big thing in Arizona. I would run a chili cook off with a craft show. Then of course, I would get to taste all the chili. Arizonians like their chili hot and spicy and many is the night I would wake up with a stomache. However, the rememberance of the taste of the chili - was terrific - it was all worth the effort and the night time pain. Generally chili is made with ground beef - and the variations are endless, depending on the spice mixture you use. Here is, a Chili Chicken recipe with White Beans. 1 lb. chicen tenders or boneless skinless breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (pre-cooked) 1 cup of chopped onion 1 can Great Northern Beans (use organic) 1 can of black beans (use organic) 1 can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, with juice 2 tbsp chili powder - You can of course experiment with any spice combinations you want to try, just like the professional chili cooks would do. Cook this in a crock pot for at least 4 hours, longer is better as the spices settle in. There are other ways to make chili - like a gazillion ways. Talking healthy, chili - you might use turkey instead of beef. I actually found a receipe that uses 1/2 can of organic puree pumpkin. Pumpkin is loaded in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E and goes well with tomato sauce. You probably could add it to just about any chili recipe. Time passes and as we age we find we cannot eat what we did when we were younger. Hence, sadly (in some ways) I have become a vegetarian. Not to worry.... there are a ton of tasty spicey vegetarian chili recipes also. One of my favorite and one I use all the time is this recipe. Vegetarian Black Bean Chili 1 can of tomato bits 16oz - (give or take) 1 can of tomato sauce 2 cans of black beans drained (organic) 1 tablespoon of oregano 1 tablspoon cilantro 1 tablespoon oif chili powder 1 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth 1 onion 1 green pepper 1 can of organic 16 oz corn (drained) fresh cilantro some chives - first sautee the green pepper, garlic cloves, and onion pieces, then [...]
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.
I am always on the look out for stuff for our food concessionaires. So here are a few tips to help you sell more food and beverages. 1) Give your patrons food and beverage items they cannot find elsewhere 2) Hot-Cooked items will make more then pre-packaged items 3) Want to make more cash? make sure you are located near where a line for something is at the event 4) Create attractive displays of food for people to look at. 5) Cooking food in the open where guests can see and smell it - will work wonders for you. 6) Keep your food and beverage within the theme of your attraction. Like, a rodeo could have say - cowboy juice 7) You should of course have cotton candy and beverages because the mark up on these items is great. 8) Use a simple themed menu - too many choices is too confusing. 9) You could offer a discount for the staff who are running your event, or for that matter what about fellow vendors? 10) Make a deal with the event for those purchasing vip tickets. That will help the event and you!. If you can add to this list, please do and leave a comment below.
Being a concessionaire is a tough business. There is a lot of competition. Getting booked is hard work and there are always a lot of new concessions coming along. If you do NOT want to get booked follow these rules 1) send an email with just a link in it to a website or YouTube channel - with no verbiage in the email. It sorta looks like spam and more then likely whoever it is that you are sending it to will not open it. 2) have a icky looking old fashioned funky website. Having a website like this - that looks like a magazine old fashioned ad certainly will help you not get booked. 3) sending a video that has a cute dog or kids or showing you handshaking a crowd is certainly not relevant to what you do. These days having a very unprofessional video is a sure way not to get you booked. 4) don't send pictures of your product. You really don't want to get booked so why send pictures 5) send a lot of junky emails - why send one professional well written email with a video or proper pictures, when you can send lots of short choppy incomplete emails and bombard the person who is doing the booking right? 6) send the fair or event a picture of a hamburger. They probably have never seen one and maybe they will be thrilled by the photo, right? Okay, enough of the nonsense - realistically - send one professional email. The more professional the better. An appropriate video showing your booth and set up and you at event with crowds would be appropriate, pictures of the same would be good, a menu and a picture of the inside of your booth would be nice. You might also mention briefly some of the events you have done. And, if it should be a first event you are applying for? All of the above apply, just because it might be your first event - does not mean you do not have a chance of getting booked, if your email is professional. Its like applying for a job after all.
Have you ever had the idea that maybe it would be a good thing to try to be a food vendor at a festival or event? Its hard to get started and the rules are all but overwhelming. In this interview I talk to Kurt of the 4th Avenue Merchants Association in Tucson and Mia Hansen of Tucson Meet Yourself. We talk about how to get into a big festival if you are a new food vendor. They say that you should contact the person running the festival who should be able to help you through the maze of regulations. Listen Here!