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QotW:  How do you feed yourself when working art shows or festivals?


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Hi folks, pondering new questions, thinking about old days, festivals and art shows, small events and large, far away and near. . . .and one question was always on my mind; how do I feed my self and wife when working the booth? I don't know about you, but I like good food, not overly seasoned or salted, not heavy in the belly, but flavorful and healthy, within reason. I would see all sorts of solutions with folks from buying from a vendor/food truck, to coolers of sandwiches and drinks, and even some folks cooking brunch at a small camp stove behind their booth. Their food would have probably sold better than the crafts from the smell of it. My own situation was usually my wife would go and get something of her tastes, then I. Other times we would bring a cooler with salads and cold drinks. I thought it might be a good topic, as many times food is important to keep your nerves even, and your blood sugar from diving!

QotW:  How do you feed yourself when working art shows or festivals? Please include examples!

 

best,

Pres

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I have never done a art festival but I did  Home Shows for 15 years when I owned a wallpaper store.   We couldn't have coolers at the show so I would stick a couple of bottles of water,  banana,  granola bar and a yogurt in a big purse.   We weren't suppose to bring food into the booths,  they  wanted  you to buy everything from the snack bar.   I would buy a bottle of water and eat my lunch at one of the snack tables.  No one ever said anything to me,  you can't eat snack bar food for three days.    Denice

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I work shows alone, so I take a cooler to every show with sandwiches, snacks, water, etc. I Invested in a good roto-molded cooler a few years ago and it can get through a 3 day show without needing to refill the ice so it was a worthwhile investment. It's this one if anyone's interested. It's cheap compared to a Yeti and works great, and holds enough food to get me through a weekend. I also take a small bag with food that doesn't need to be kept cold- chips, granola bars, etc. I always take way more food than I need, because some days I just get hungrier than others. If I do well on Saturday I'll often treat myself to buying lunch from one of the food trucks on Sunday, but that requires being able to leave my booth for 10-20 minutes, so I only do that at smaller shows if the show is slow and I can find a good booth sitter or neighbor to help out. At really big shows, trying to get out of the booth that long is impossible, so a stocked cooler is super important. Hunger can make a show a pretty miserable experience. In addition to food, I take two 32oz and one 64oz stainless steel insulated water bottles that can keep water cold all day. The 64oz is a backup that stays in the cooler, and I fill the 32oz bottles in the morning- at home if it's a local show, or at the hotel or wherever I get breakfast if it's an away show. Most coffee shops, McDonalds, bakeries, (wherever you get breakfast) are happy to fill bottles with ice water for you, especially if it's near the show and you mention that you're an artist. Most good shows will hand out water, but I hate the environmental impact of disposable water bottles so I try to avoid taking them.

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Coolers are really important for outdoor shows. I remember days when the PSU arts festival would be 98F. and 90% humidity. People just dragged themselves through it. I bet they sold lots of water that weekend.

 

best,

Pres

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Funny I use the same coolers as Neil -I have them in two sizes.I also have an electric one for the van.I run that electric with frozen gallons of water and things stay frozen for a few days

If I'm on a long trip like the one in two weeks that will include diving for 3 days after  3 day show I will take some frozen tuna to BBQ after show-we stay for a week in a place with a kitchen  (friend own it) also fresh vegtables from large garden and steam them for dinner . Usually shows and diving do not mix but this one coming up in Wa state I have mixed diving with show for 30 years now .

For me my wife makes chicken for me  before show and we freeze it . I did many 3 days shows as well.I pack the frozen chicken (one saerving for lunch per day)in pre frozen water bottles quarts and gallons and the food thaws slowly driving to shows (most are long trips up to two days away) I also have a bag of celery and carrots and cold drinks.I also take some hard boiled eggs. I have my own coffee making (stove and dripper always with me in van asa well.) if the show is hot (summer) then I take a as large as I can gett iced latte or coffee. In the eraly am I get a coffee shop to give me a cup of Ice and the drink in another cup and make it up as needed during the day. I like coffee in all forms. I also have some small cold expresso cans as well in cooler.I usually pack some kind nut bars as well. This is  for a solo show or a helper show -its standard as I supply food to helper as well. I have done shows for 47 years now and have a system down . 

Also I take two days of fresh sandwiches which gets me to show and into the 1st day.I carry cereal for breakfast and milk in cooler  as well for all breakfasts during and traveling  to and from shows. I always eat a dinner out after shows unless I'm staying for long time after show like  my next show in two weeks.-part of the deal.10 years ago I put 20.000 miles a year on the van  every year(only used for pottery sales) Now its under 5,000. down to 3 shows and soon less than that.My local sales really have made shows obsolete other than the disire to see and talk to customers which I still need.

In my past when doing super hot shows like Gilry Ca garlic festival I have a scuba tank air powered mister system that covered my booth and 1/2 I used for decades there. I no longer do super hot shows (maybe not with climate change withstanding in the Pacific Northwest now ) .Customers flocked to that mister booth back then-the emitters where away from the racks of pots.

I never eat fair food-for many reasons

they are 

takes to much time

Getting bad food and sick at show is no fun (seen this happen more than once to others)

Remember your time at show is very limited so make it all count. Reading books no 

waiting in food lines no

attuitude is everything unless the customer crosses the line (been there as well) Refusing service always is a last resort but I have done it more than once-this may be another topic?

 

 

Edited by Mark C.
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My solution for show food is Soylent. https://www.amazon.com/Soylent-Replacement-Powder-Original-Pound/dp/B071F4Z16T/  I buy it in powder form which makes it light and shelf stable for packing. I’ll have breakfast of oatmeal and coffee at the beginning of each show day. Then I bring 600 calories of Soylent with me to the show. Even on a hot day, it won’t go bad in the span of one day, so I don’t need refrigeration. It’s really easy to sip 150 calories, at four intervals. I never feel hungry or full. No sugar crashes. I never get caught chewing food by a customer, or any food stains on my clothes, or sticky fingers. I don’t have to leave the booth. (I don’t like to be away from my booth either. Every minute you’re gone is a potential sale lost.) I also bring a 32 oz Hydroflask with ice water, which will stay icy the whole day. At the end of every day I’ll go find some real food for dinner. Packing the oatmeal, coffee, and soylent from home saves a lot of money, compared to buying breakfast a lunch on the road everyday. Buying dinner everyday seems justifiable. 

Edited by GEP
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58 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

Soylent Green is people!:D

Yeah, the name is creepy and makes a lot of people think “yuck.” The actual product is vegan. I wouldn’t call it delicious, but it doesn’t taste bad either. I’m prioritizing function and convenience, and it solves all of the issues for me. 

Edited by GEP
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So outdoor shows aren’t really as big here as they are in the US, but I still travel out of town for a few. I don’t drive more than about 4 hours for a show, because too far out and the overhead’s too high for them to be profitable for me. I have a landscape photographer friend I usually room with at an Airbnb. We both prefer to cook ourselves. Her because she has dairy allergies that are hard to work around on the fly, and me because I try to keep costs low and I get really sick of restaurant food quickly.

If I have time in the week leading up, I’ll shop for dry goods and most things, and then hit a grocery store in the town we’re in for things that require refrigeration on setup day. I eat a good breakfast before I hit the sale, and bring a thermos of tea, flask of water and another small thermos of soup for lunch. If it’s a long day, I may add a smoothie to the bag. I will occasionally get snacks onsite, but try not to do too much, because it’s too easy to eat when I’m bored. I try and stick to things I can drink in the booth,  both because I hate being caught with a mouthful and I don’t like being stuck in a food line. 

Even with that, we still wind up doing a dinner or two out after the show closes for the day. I try and keep the travel budget to about $100/day for food and lodging.

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We take a show car to car shows all summer unless it is  miserably hot.   A  few years ago the temps really went up and it was 105 in no time,  people were lined up at the food truck.  We thought it was to hot to eat and had a  couple of bottles of water for lunch.  The next day we heard that everyone who ate at the food truck got food poisoning.    Denice

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Mark's comment on eating Fair food and getting ill reminded me of the time I got food poisoning and my wife had to do the tear down and packing all by herself as I writhed, sweating in agony.  Subsequently I planned my fasts around events and just drank tea and water.  Two or three days was not a struggle.  Not a very exciting response to the original question I suppose but there it is.  I'm extremely unlikely to eat street vendor food from any location ever again.

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On 7/20/2021 at 8:05 AM, GEP said:

My solution for show food is Soylent.

I just around to this post since I don't do shows, but am always interested in food. OMG--Soylent Green...the movie!! I saw it when it came out in '73 and it was fairly horrifying! It made entirely too much sense, as a possibility, especially after reading things like Brave New World,  Animal Farm , 1984 etc. in H.S.  :ph34r:

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