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How Much Do Food Vendors Make at Festivals? (Factors That Determine Their Income Included)

Food Vendors Making Sales

It is estimated that food vendors will sell meals to about 5 percent of the size the total number of people at an event. So on average, one in every twenty people that attend an event will place an order with you.

Reports also have it that food vendors at bigger music and food festivals have been able to generate in a range of $6,000 to $13,000 sales each day; although, these vendors are usually the more specialty – based, ‘high end / gourmet’ market truck operations that cater directly to the needs of their audience.

While food vendors in smaller festivals, offering hot dogs, deli sandwiches, and simpler lunches, et al, will end up generating anything $5,000 to $16,000 a month.

However, each festival is different and will bring different sales numbers. Bigger events that attract more potential customers will generate more sales for a food vendor. Additionally, a vendor that sells deep-fried pickles may have a more in-demand product than the soft-pretzel guy.

The weather might discourage an otherwise large crowd from attending. These are just few of the variables to keep in mind when estimating sales per event.

According to research, 21.52 percent of food trucks earn about $200,000 on an annual basis, 30.04 percent earn around $150,000 to $199,999, 34.08 percent made between $100,000 to 149,999, 10.67 percent made $50,000 to $99,999, while 3.59 percent made less than $50,000.

Though the specific requirements may differ according to the size of your food vending business and different state laws, food vending is still a very lucrative business in the United States.

There’s a lot of money to be made from festivals, and most full – time food truck owners make most of their money over the festival period. The weather is getting warmer and it means big business for food truck operators.

From local food, beer or craft festivals in local counties to large – scale state fairs and national music jamborees, getting in on the events circuit can be an ideal way to generate more revenue in the busy summer months.

Factors That Influence the Income of Food Vendors at Festivals

To help you make this crucial decision, below are factors that will decide how much profit you make from a festival as a food vendor.

  1. Cost of attendance and the location of your truck

Note that to sell at a festival, you may need to pay the organizer a fee. This is where you will set up stall and serve up your food during the festival.

Have it in mind that the bigger the festival, the more you will pay for a space. You will usually pay this fee in full before the event, either upfront when the cost is in the hundreds or in a few installments if it is in the thousands.

Before you sign on the dotted line and hand your hard – earned money over to a festival organizer, try to find out exactly where your location is going to be and have it written into your contract. Note that the perfect location depends on what you sell.

Spaces near the campsite are going to get the lion’s share of business until noon while people pull themselves around and get breakfast, while stalls near the main stage will get the most action in the afternoon and through into the evening. Keep this in mind when negotiating the position of your truck.

  1. Festival Attendance

Have it in mind that the bigger the festival, the bigger potential you have for profit. Although numbers may not be everything, your sales are always going to depend on the number of people there to buy from you.

One of the first things you need to ask when you’re thinking about buying a space at a festival is, how many people are going to attend.

You should also search the internet for accurate figures. Nonetheless, the best source of information is often another vendor who has pitched at that festival before.

Note that the food truck community is quite tight knit, so if you can find out who’s pitched there before, all it takes is a phone call or email to get a realistic view of a festival.

  1. Possible Competition

Agreeably, the number of people attending a festival isn’t the primary determinant. You also have to ask the organizer how many other vendors they are expecting.

For instance, it is preferable to the sole vendor at a local event expecting 1,500 people than as one of a dozen stalls catering for a festival expecting 10,000 people.

Also ask to know the exact kinds of vendors that already signed up. If there’s already a stall signed up selling the same cuisine as you, you might want to give the festival a miss, as you will both get a lot less attention. 

At larger festivals where most cuisines are going to be catered for already, you will want to make sure your stall is well away from your direct competition.

  1. Time

Although you might be allowed to serve food onsite from 8am through to 11pm, don’t base your calculations on making sales that whole time.

For instance, if you’re going to be selling bacon carnies, you will get a lot of punters during breakfast and lunch, followed by sales trailing off into the afternoon.

It is important to know your realistic trading hours to calculate your earning potential. Base your calculation on these rather than making sales throughout the day. Additionally, you are always going to be constrained by how many items you can get out an hour.

Once you know your realistic trading hours and the time it takes you to service each order, you can work out the absolute maximum you could make at the festival.

Always use your realistic trading hours and multiply them by 60 to get the total minutes. Divide this by the time it takes to prepare each order, and then multiply this by the number of staff you have and the price of your product to get the total amount you could possibly make.

  1. Staff

If you are at a large festival, note that you will have people at your booth at all times. How much you make will depend on how much you are able to keep up with the demand. If you can’t, you’re going to lose business, and you may even get bad word – of – mouth.

Hiring enough staff for the show will help you maximize your profits. However, if you’re at a small venue, you might still have to bring someone along to help. You may get a huge influx of customers, or you may just want a break to go to the bathroom.

Having someone there to relieve you can be a huge advantage. Nonetheless, you also need to consider the cost of the workers. That is, if you have too many paid people there, it is going to cut into your profits. It may take you a few shows to figure out the sweet spot for the number of workers you will need for each type of show.


Indeed, the size of the crowd will make a huge difference in the amount of money you can expect to make per day at each festival.

This also buttresses the point that there are some events you will need to say “no thanks” to if you want to operate a healthy business.

As a food truck owner, you will be asked to serve at all kinds of places. Places like corporate office parks, small – town parades, charity events, and even fairs.

Your ability to be able to sort out the good financial opportunities from the bad ones is a skill you will need to hone. You can still vend at these smaller events, but you have to first make sure it is a catering event where you are pre – paid for your services and know what your profit will be up front.

Other Insider Facts You Must Know Before Going to a Food Festival

To start, you will have to consider how your truck’s brand and products will fit with the festival’s theme and audience. It is also necessary to ensure that the time and money you invest in the event will bring in profit.

Whether the organizer bills food vendors a flat fee or mandates a percentage of revenue earned, you will have to do the math and analyze the benefits you stand to gain.

You will have to consider the fees, prior year’s attendance and how many other food vendors will be at the event. And, if you would have to raise your prices, just make sure it won’t negatively impact your brand. Make sure to contact your local city council and event coordinators to register for food vending privileges.

Most fairs and festivals are scheduled several months in advance and begin taking vendor applications at least six to eight weeks before the event. If you have never vended a festival, it is advisable you start small and build up with experience.

You will also have to deal with a much larger scale of people, which can be hard if you don’t have the experience ahead of time.

When you’re vending at a festival, whether a music festival, renaissance festival, or craft fair, you need to plan ahead for many things, more especially how many customers you may have. Most festivals will have attendance numbers to give you some idea of how much product you need.

You don’t want to bring too much product and not have the space for it, but you need enough to last before the event is over. You will also have to determine the required permits and licenses.

To sell food and beverages at fairs and festivals, you may need some type of vendor’s license or food handler’s permit. According to reports, most restaurants participating in minimal events can generally obtain a temporary permit that allows vending privileges for about 24 to 48 hours.

However, the event coordinator can provide the necessary applications, or direct you to the appropriate agency. If you plan to travel frequently to several festivals and fairs, you will need to license your company with your local health department, and you may also need to obtain a temporary vendor’s permit for each festival you service.