Spring/Summer Carnivals/festivals

Just a reminder to those living and working in smalltown USA:

The time is now to get ready for your springtime/summertime carnivals and festivals. I know every small town has one or two and the whole town/county participates. Every carnival/festival has food vendors and getting in now would be recommended to ensure yourself a spot. These can be great sales building opportunities as well as PR venues, so this is just a reminder to get on top of this now before it’s too late. Have fun.


I was giving this some thought, although for next year. How do you tackle this situation. Have the pizzas dropped off from your store, have a mini oven at the festival so they are baked on the spot?

Another thought for everyone, we have a large church that sets up a booth at our “Viking Festival” in May as a fundraiser. They buy the pizza from a local Indy at a reduced cost then sell them by the slice. The Indys gets good PR without having to man the booth and the church makes good money for its fundraiser. I think last year they made around $2000 for the weekend.

One thing you can use is just a good ol heat lamp… cook the pizzas at the shop and deliver them every 1/2 hour or hour (Keep them in pizza bags, pull them out, slide on pan and put under lamp)

The other thing you could use is a flat warming unit.

We buy lunch size plates (makes the slice look even bigger) and sell em cheap so we sell em fast.

(Don’t forget to have soda and bottled water.

I have been thinking about doing wings and selling them under a warmer but not sure people will want to spend 6 bucks for wings at a carnival type event.


I’m signing up for my first street fare in mid August, anybody have any experience with them? this is the first year of the fair and their is no one I can talk to around that can tell me what to expect…the organizers are saying they expect 10,000 visitors over 2 days. I’m planning on selling simple things, mini meatballs, fire roasted corn, spicy Italian sausage sandwiches and sliced pizzas. we have a food warmer for the pizzas, electric steam tables to keep the meatballs at temp and charcoal grill for the sausage and corn. Just not sure how many portions to make of everything. I’m thinking we are gonna need a cold item too cuz i know its gonna be hot as balls by mid august in Chicago. Any advice?

All I do is summer shows.
First year events are tricky. Some of my best shows were 1st year events(with way too few food booths and great attendance) and some of my biggest losers were first year events(poor attendance and bad booth placement).
It really depends upon how many people actually show up and the placement of your booth as well as the total number of food booths.
Generally, sausage, meat sticks, and fried foods do better at street fairs. Pizza will do well if there are a lot of children or the show goes into the evening when it starts cooling down.
We used to do music events all across the country including Chicago and no other city crowd partied as hard as the Chicago crowd.
Often electricity is limited or expensive at these events so make sure they have what you’ll need for the electric steam table.

I used to do a couple of these type of events until the organizers started having too many food vendors. When the pie is divided into too many pieces nobody makes money. So in answer to how many portions to make, it all depends on how many other choices the visitors have.

the event company putting it together does some of the biggest summer fests in Chicago so hopefully they know what they are doing. Also, i talked to the one of the guys in charge and he said no one else has signed up to be a food vendor yet. but they also didn’t have a layout to show me yet. where is the best place to be in a fest like this? i was thinking by the beer tent…maybe the stage? its called the Albany park world fest and im thinking i’ts gonna be mostly jewelry and art vendors, but they say said their is gonna be world music and dancing. All the electricity and permits are included in the vendor fee so that’s nice. I have worked the Taste Of Chicago before, not as a food vendor but, but as a caterer for the higher ups and music talent. so i kinda know what to expect working outside. and its gonna be more of a evening thing the hours are from noon to 10pm.

When’s the fest man? I live in Jefferson park I’d love to come check out your food!

Could be a great show especially with the 10PM closing . A seasoned promoter will know how to advertise and have ATM’s on site.
Generally, you want to be in the main stage area; however, you don’t want to be too close to the stage. It’s called getting buried when your so close to the stage that the crowd packs against your booth and even your employees can’t squeeze their way in. Been there. Usually you want to be set back some from the stage so the crowd isn’t too dense.
The beer booth is often a good place to have a pizza/sausage booth. Sometime events will have several beer booths and you would want to be close to the one nearest the main stage.
Generally, you don’t want to be on a corridor that is so narrow that people can’t line up comfortably.
We’ve been directly across from a beer booth before with a moderately sized isle and the beer line/mob backed up all the way to our booth thus making it difficult for potential customers to access us.
Like Daddio said, sometimes promoters add too many vendors and the pie slices get mighty small for each vendor.
Given that it is a first year show and relatively small event, ask the promoter that you be the only one selling the type of food you sell. Quality promoters will limit one booth per food niche for an event of this size.
Get some quality banners made up so people know what your selling. If your booth is 10’ wide, have a 9’6" wide sign by 30-36" tall that says pizza-Sausages. Most sign shops have ink printers to make banners of this type.

August 16 and 17! I’ll be the big guy manning the grill!

Awesome Info thanks so much! im getting a 20’x20’ booth so i was gonna do 2 8 foot banners from vista print, ill see if i can get bigger from a local guy.

what do you think about getting a credit card processor for the event? I’m thinking their will be ATMs all over but no one in Chicago carries cash anymore. 75% of my normal biz is charges.

Maybe use square?

Looking forward to hearing about how it goes, and thanks for the informative post pizza99.

yeah that’s probably what I’ll get if i decide to use one buuuuut i would much rather make the customer use a atm and I not have to pay the fee.

Use Square or Pay Anywhere and you’ll do enough additional sales due to having the ability to process cards to more than cover the additional fees. I have a wallet full of credit cards but do not know a single pin number so I can’t access any ATM. I also rarely have cash in my pocket so no credit card processing means no business from me.

Right! that’s most people these days. yeah ill end up grabbing a Square.

But what’s the name of the fest, Chicago has about 800 of them.

lol that would help, thought i put in one of the posts…the Albany Park Worldfest, at Lawrence and Kimball. You are not to far from my place!

What’s the name of your place, I’d love to check it out.

Tano’s Pizzeria 3038 w Irving Park rd