The Connecting Point show on the PBS station WGBY in Springfield did a segment on Steve’s operation at the Springfield farmers market! I went out that day to help pop and hang with him and see his offspring. Steve got his own kettle corn tent when I moved to Onset 2 years ago and has been doing extremely well for himself. His fetish is to go to ski resorts, set up the tent there and pop in the snow and the cold. Go nuts Steve! Personally – I’d rather move to Maui and pop under a palm tree. He’s been calling himself “Velma’s West”. I pretend to show up from time to time from the ‘corporate’ office and give him a performance review.
We’ve been doing this one for a while – I did a video for this event as a “typical craft fair” in my “How to start your own kettle corn business” ebook. Here are my blog entries for this event in 2007 and 2008 plus a silly video I did back in 2008. Did I mention I’ve been doing this event for a while?
This event is held by the Metrowest Humane Society, an organization that specializes in homeless kitties, but they’re friendly to dogs too. There were tons of critters running so it was an enjoyable day. This event is held in the same spot as the Framingham Farmers market. What’s really weird was I ended up in EXACTLY the same place for both events. (see animated GIF above) I only pay 20 bucks a day for the farmers market, but had to shell out $150 for literally the same spot in the same field. I had plenty of return farmers market customers and it ended up a pretty good profitable day – we sold over 200 bags at this event.
The big concern was the Framingham Food Truck Festival that was being held just a couple of miles down the street. They also had crafts but obviously featured more food. We were worried that that event would divert most of our customers from our field to theirs. I didn’t really notice a drop in attendance where we were. In fact, because the only “competition” was an ice cream truck and a person selling hot dogs and canoli’s, we felt that we sold more throughout the day. A bunch of people just went to this event to got kettle corn, then went to the food truck festival to get their real lunch.
I’ve mentioned this in my ebook, nobody considers kettle corn a meal, so sales typically drop off around noon. Many people keep telling me that I should sell kettle corn at the “such and such” food festival. You certainly will sell something at an event like that, but the real money happens when you’ve got the market cornered and there ISN’T too many food choices.
The city of Everett has a yearly celebration where they close off Norwood street and fill it with music and vendors. It’s kind of like the Newton Highlands Village Day we did last year.
A national hotel chain wants to build a casino in Everett and is trying to finalize the plans with the town. They had a tent set up at this event and wanted to illustrate what their plans looked like. They also wanted to give something away to the crowd to attract more interest in their tent. Their event manager thought kettle corn would attract a lot of people since we tend to stink up the joint when we pop. They liked what they saw on our website and thought our colors matched their casino theme. They hired us to make 300 half-size bags and give them away to the crowd. It’s not every day you get pre-paid to pop, but when it happens it makes a really fun day.
I knew once the word got out that there was free kettle corn was to be had, 300 bags wouldn’t cut it. It can turn into a shark feeding frenzy when you just hand the stuff out. Sure enough, our smell went down the street, a line formed that went out side their tent and we hit 300 bags by 2 o’clock. Ultimately we ended up giving away 700 bags. Normally we like to seal everything up so people can take it home, but at this rate you just scoop and toss the stuff out. The day went off really well, everyone was happy and it looks like they want us back next year.
The town of Sudbury went all out to celebrate it’s 375th anniversary. They combined a large craft fair, tons of music and a fireworks show all in one day at their high school. We got invited because we’ve been doing plenty of other events in Sudbury like the Paws In The Park and The Colonial Faire. We were popping in Sudbury 2 weeks ago at their Olde Time Fair – this event was basically a warm up to this 375th celebration. Needless to say, Sudbury loves us and we love Sudbury.
Some of our most intense popping days are right before fireworks displays. It’s past dinner, it’s getting dark and everyone wants to a bag of kettle corn to munch on while they watch the show. We sold a crazy amount of kettle corn at the Assonet Fireworks back in 2012. If you can be right next to the spot where the crowd forms and get the wind to blow your cooking aroma across them, the whole thing feeds on itself and you end up getting murdered with ravenous customers. Today we ended up planting our tent right across the bandstand and were armed for bear. I took (5) 50 lb bags of popcorn with me that day. There was no way I was going to run out.
The day starts fine, but we didn’t get a crazy amount of business. They had asked a ton of other food vendors to be there, typically we can’t compete with real food like BBQ stuff when lunch time rolls around. They also had two ice cream trucks hammering the kids. By the time 4 o’clock rolled around, we were only up a hundred bucks each. Not a biggie, we thought the real killing was to be had when it got dark. All of a sudden a massive thunder storm front came through with tornado watches and everything. Gale force winds picked up, drenched everyone and the customers scattered. So much for our big day. We thought today would’ve been our biggest day of the year, but the weather screwed us.
Boy do we love Sudbury, Massachusetts. We’ve been doing the Colonial Faire at the Wayside Inn for a few years now and have built up a pretty good following. The town of Sudbury is having their 375 celebration and one of the events is this Olde Time Fair which was held on August 23rd. Apparently someone from the town knew our of kettle corn from the Wayside Inn event and asked us to be here. We jumped all over the chance. We’ve got a bunch of people who are loyal followers of our product from the other Sudbury events, and they didn’t disappoint.
The location was sort of in a weird spot – it was centered around the small town common, which is at the crossroads of two busy streets. It was a pain in the butt to get our trailer in it’s final spot. Tons of people were there for the day to see the pony rides and other critters. We sold 8 oils worth of kettle corn – the same amount we did last week at the Framingham Farmers Market (which is just down the street). These types of events where you have people who have already tried your product tend to do really well. Typically we don’t sell many large bags if nobody knows who you are, but the regulars were really gobbling everything up.
We’re really getting torqued up for the Sudbury Field Day event on September 6th. There’s gonna be concerts and fireworks that day, all 10 hours of it. We’re going to be exhausted and hopefully this will be our record day of the season. We learned that the Colonial Faire will have extra people this year because of the 375 celebration, so it should be close between the two events.