We got a review on Kat’s Food Adventures blog! Woo hoo! I was talking with Kat about online marketing and crap at our tent at the Newton Farmers Market and learned that she’s basically a foodie blogger. I dunno – what’s more interesting, making kettle corn or doing online marketing? It’s kind of nice having someone make a video about me, since I’ve been making videos about my customers for years.
SPRINGFIELD—Walking into the Farmers’ Market at Forest Park on any given Tuesday this summer it’s hard not to notice a bright yellow tent protecting the delightful popping sounds and hard-to-miss smells of freshly made salty-sweet popcorn.
Velma’s Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn of Springfield, owned by Steve Cary, has been a fixture at the farmers’ market (including its previous location at the X in Springfield) for the past eight years. Steve along with his three children have been serving up hot, fresh kettle corn—and having a blast along the way. His wife, Kelly, a mental health nurse, pitches in when needed.
Steve’s banter with customers is as much a part of the experience as popping the corn. He will often have fun with children who come to the booth to order by first asking, “Did you eat your vegetables, clean your room, listen to your mother and during the school year do your homework?” He also likes to tell customers unfamiliar with kettle corn that it’s “free-range, organic, low-fat, boneless, dolphin-safe, fair-trade, gourmet, microbrew- and chardonnay-compatible kettle corn.” Photos by Jennifer Garutti.
Yay! It’s the start of this years Newton (Outdoor) Farmers Market! We’ve been waiting all year for July to come around so we can match our income at the Framingham Farmers Market on Thursdays. The Newton farmers market is every Tuesday from 1:30-6pm at the Cold Springs Park in Newton, MA. The market has been around for ever and has a really nice selection of veggies and other goodies. We waited all year for this.
The Newton winter market was kind of iffy. We suspected it was because we didn’t have ANY bakers there selling yummy, fresh baked goods. We confirmed this at the opening of the summer market. We asked just about everybody if they went to the winter market and many didn’t even know it existed. The few people who did go down there confirmed that they were disappointed that there were no baked goods. Many people just showed up on the first day and never came back. Since there aren’t that many fresh veggies during the winter, baked goods seem to be the “anchor” table at these winter markets. As an example, the Easton Indoor Farmers Market had 5 baked goods tables and that place was hopping back in March.
Bark In The Park was another doggie event held at the Hopkinton State Park. Apparently this was their 13th year at this spot. Since we had such a great time at the Save A Dog in Sudbury this year, why not keep the doggie theme going? Hoo boy, not all doggie events are created equal – from a kettle corn selling stand point. We made like 30 bucks at this event total.
What kills me is the person setting it up did such a great job getting our logo into their literature. The people running it were all very nice – heck, even the health department guy was great (he took his 30 bucks, which killed half of our profits!). If you just want to go with your dog, don’t let my review stop you. The problem was there weren’t that many people compared to the Sudbury event. Because the location was within the Hopkinton State Park, you couldn’t spot it doing a drive by, you had to know the fields location before you entered the park. This reminded me of another event we did which ended up being an abortion for sales – the Middleborough Blues Festival last year. This event was also set back from a main road and you had to know exactly where it was to find it. Both of these events we sold more bags of kettle corn to the other vendors that regular attendees. Here’s a major clue when booking events:
If there’s hardly any vendors coming back from last year – you might be getting into trouble!
This is like the perfect kettle corn gig, even though the Assonet Strawberry Festival isn’t that huge of a deal and not a crazy amount of people come here. It’s basically an arts and crafts festival with a smattering of food. There’s a couple of things going for us: We’re smack dab right in the middle of all the tents AND next to the band stand. There’s a C&W band that plays and a bunch of people end up sitting there listening to the music and watching us pop. We fed a couple of bags to the band and it was pretty funny during the breaks where the entertainment was them eating bags of kettle corn and saying how wonderful it is into the mics. Kettle corn business hint: if there is a band, give them free kettle corn, it’s the best damn publicity you’ll get at the gig.
Because the other tents were surrounding us and so close, you couldn’t avoid the stink we were creating. It’s like shooting a barrel in a school of fish. There weren’t a lot of food options. The best food draw was the fresh strawberry shortcake bowls, I had one and they were yummy. Other than someone making some hamburgers on a grill, that was it for food options. We’ve noticed that if there are too many food options at an event, our sales suffer. On top of everything it only cost like 30 bucks to enter and we didn’t have to pay off any health department inspectors. Perfect weather, we sold about 150 bags. Life was good under the yellow tent today.