On the 22nd of April 2017 I attended the Fremantle Bacon Festival, run by the Esplanade Hotel (Rydges) in Fremantle, Western Australia.
This was the first festival of it’s kind, so it was bound to have teething problems, however there were a few things that stood out to be rather odd and disappointing, especially from an experienced event organiser.
The website itself should be the #1 place for all authoritative information on the event; It should be the reference in which people are pointed to get the information they need, however it was very much lacking in both basic and in depth information.
The website’s online ticket ordering functionality was also faulty, in that it did not work with the Chrome browser, and possibly others - standard testing prior to a site go live should have picked up and resolved this issue, so I’m unsure why something like this would be overlooked, especially if you’re going to be charging more to pay at the door.
It was very apparent that the event was going to be a large and busy one, however the event was held in a relatively small inside hall, which lead to significant crowding, long lines, and disgruntled patrons; The music was excessively loud for the space, and I feel that both the patrons and the vendors have been let down by the organiser.
While I understand the need to charge for entry in some events, even a $15 fee to get into an event that offered little more than an all in one place for a few vendors made it seem, as some people posted, to be a ‘money grab’, almost like a royal show, except with significantly less attraction and subsequent value for money.
The vendors did do a great job with what they had, however it did appear that some were very much unprepared, from one end of the spectrum having to shut down and get more stock (or put up signs indicating products were unavailable); to the opposite with some vendors having significant left overs due to either mismatching their target audience or for others.
Some vendors had pulled out prior to the event, despite being a major drawing card (bacon ice cream anyone? nope, it wasn’t there…).
I’m hopeful that next year, if it’s run again, the errors of judgement and planning will be rectified, making for a considerably better and more fun event.
Some ideas for next year would be:
Run the event outside
An indoor event is crowded and incredibly off-putting, especially with loud music, and potentially conflicting smells.
Consider cover charge adjustments
You should be able to make money back hosting the event from vendor fees, and vendors should be able to make their money back and profit, in addition to exposure, from the quality of their product.
Create a dedicated event website, with:
- Proper in-depth event information
- FAQ’s that are actively updated
- Better and more consistent communication
- More in-depth exposure for vendors (it’s really what they’re paying for)
- A better booking system with proper cross platform support
More appropriate, vetted vendors
This ensures the best quality and relevance for patrons and both competing and complementary vendors
Better handling of negative feedback
This is mainly focused at the Facebook discussions.
Instead of addressing peoples concerns, the conversation was blocked and people were no longer able to comment on the thread.
This is considerably more destructive than helpful.
Better communication with vendors
It was clear that the vendors really didn’t know what they were in for, with many (if not all) vendors running out of stock very rapidly.
You knew how many were prepaid registered, and had an estimated ‘going’ count from the Facebook page, so why was it apparently a surprise for the vendors.
Some vendors appeared to be rather left out, being put in the corner and unfortunately being ignored (we should be supporting the little guys)
More interactive events,
There was an eating competition, but that was it; What happened to the cooking competition?
Better, and more relevant kids corner
Kids can be a hard group to keep entertained, so a colouring corner really wasn’t the best choice, especially if you want to keep the parents around, trying new things, buying food and drink, etc.
While I did, personally, have a good time for the few hours I attended the event, I did feel it was lacking and felt that some feedback was required to see this succeed in later years.
I was very much disheartened to see that some left after only 10 minutes due to difficulties, predominately caused by lack of communication and/or mismanagement.
I understand that events such as these are big things to organise, but when you’re charging entry to an event that aside from giving you live covers, only really provides minor tastings and the opportunity to buy is a bit much, especially in a budget conscious age, a bacon festival is supposed to be about bacon, it’s not about you making as much money as you can and hoping your disgruntled patrons will forget next year; It doesn’t work like that.
A festival is supposed to be ‘a day or period of celebration’; so where were the amusing bacon themed everythings? Is it really that hard to include novelty items to make the celebration that bit better? Have momentos to take home, etc?
There are a myriad of bacon products and novelties available, including but not limited to:
- Bacon Gumballs
- Bacon Soap
- Bacon Toothpicks
- Bacon Soda
- Chocolate Covered Bacon
- Candied Bacon
- Bacon Toothpaste
- Bacon Frosting
- Bacon Cupcakes
- Bacon Lollipops
- Bacon Coffee
- Bacon Salt
and the list goes on, and on…
It doesn’t take but a minute to search these online, and certainly adds to the ‘baconesque’ atmosphere we expected from such an event.
Here’s hoping that next years event will be considerably better, as it’s very clear the love of bacon is significant.
On the positive side, Clayton Butcher’s Beef Bacon was fantastic, as was trying the Lamb Bacon from the Lamb Bacon Co in Victoria. The Bacon Caesar roll was delicious and focused on the main player, the bacon, and MOP doughnuts.. wow, definitely worth the visit.
I don’t eat much, so didn’t get to try everything, but from what I did try, I was very happy.