How Much Food to Bring To Big Events

Nature writes,

Hi Steve… This winter I have been selling dogs on the side of the road and have been doing pretty good…. BUT… two weeks from now I have my first BIG BIG event 10-15,000 people. really. Promoters are saying 20k people but we all know they   Anyway is there any “formula” that one uses to know just how much food to have? This is a Jazz fest and the weather should be great. Just doing dogs and Brats. There are 3 other food vendors one who sells greek food and two “consessions” .  I will be the only one of my type. I have lots of big events planned this summer but I’m nervous about my first. Please throw this out for help. I dont want to run outa food or have way to much.

This doesn’t have to do with the question, but just wanted to throw this in. If you’re like me and been following this site with the idea of getting into the biz, this was my experience. I ordered the plans for the E-Z Hot Dog cart on friday afternoon about 3:00 thru this site. I recieved them the NEXT day by priority mail. Now that’s service. If only everyone gave that kind of service. So if you’ve been thinking about taking the jump, depending on where you live, you could be looking over your new plans in less than 24 hrs.


I use the 4% rule. I do not know why but, it seems to work. I take the Attendance Estimate and multiply the Number by 4%. If the Venue will see 15,000 Attendance, count on selling 600 Hot Dogs. I don’t know why but this works for me. I did three parades this past week. Because of inclimate weather at my estimate was off but I had a Real nice Day Today and My figuires were right on. The Easton Parade had about 7000 and I sold 268 Hot Dogs. I brought 350. I have another parade this weekend in Stroudsburg for about the same numbers.

I like to run my inventory tight and I feel that sometimes it is better to run out before closing time than it is to have excess inventory. Many Festivals have strict rules to stay until the festival is over so make sure you have a Back-Up Inventory. Every Festival is different and you have to play it by ear.

Like I said there is really no rhyme or reason except that I did the math at past events and that is how I arrived a 4% It works for me kinda like Global Warming works for Al Gore .

Good Luck and Pay Attention to your own numbers

Ed says 6000.

Pocono says .04 x 15,000 = 600.

we did our 1st show about 8 months ago and I had no clue as well, we sold out in a 4 hour time span, now I bring 3 cooloers full of dogs and sausages, yes I do run out but think of it this way, you can only make so much at a show,

Bob – Great point. Recordkeeping is essential unless you like reinventing the wheel all the time.

That is a good idea, thanks

I use a very simple but accurate formula for my own numbers. On average, 1 out of 3 passersbys will score you a vend. So it depends where you’re located at the event. I like to be right at the entrance…every attendee passes you coming and going. Don’t forget…you are selling the number one street food product in America! Every has had and will continue to have a good ‘ol hotdog. Make it

a great day.

4% will work for the first event, but murphy is always out there. The first one is always fun but keep records and next year will be better.I have events thur the year and always take extra. The left overs go into the refer for my week day spot.

I’ve only been slinging about three months and have quite a few events lined up. Here’s what I did. I started looking for events really early (in the off season, if you will). Google festivals/fairs in your area. Several festival locator sites/services will pop up. Look at ALL of them. They’ll give you “teaser” information and then want a fee for more info. You DON’T have to pay that fee. Simply take the name of the festival and then Google that. That usually will put you in direct touch with the promoting entity. Even if the information is from last year or a season that just ended, it is still good. Also here’s something a little bit ‘out of the box’. Check with local JROTC programs at your area high schools. They usually participate in drill competitions that attract a lot of people. And there’s usually no food vendors there…but lots of hungry high schoolers and their parents. Take a look at my site: All of the events you see listed were gotten using this method. If you want, email me and I’ll be more than glad to help you all. I believe we slingers are a special breed (LOL) and need to be able to depend on one another.

Hi Janet, the only suggestion is persistence. If the first event you try and fail then try the next one. Eventually you will get to the correct person and will get a positive response. NEVER GIVE UP!

My wife and I came back from a big event a couple weeks ago in Daytona Beach Fl. and we were expecting to do really good. I stocked up on everything to last 9 days. Needless to say we crashed and burned, the weather was cold and rainy now I’m trying to find a location in my own area to sell which is really tough. Good Luck!

We have taken our cart for the past three years to the Sturgis Bike Rally. I rent a refridgerated trailer to store plenty of extra hot dogs, Italian Beef, etc. But I go to event like that expectinf to sell out cause you could never have enought to satisfy that many people. The first two years I felt shame and embarassement for not having enough product and stresses trying to get more there. Now we do what we can and try to anticipate the crowd. My advise… do what you can, and go home a happy hot dogger. Best wishes and have a great time… we do!

This is my first year in food vending. I’m going to Stugis rally. Not sure how much food to bring?

Where can I rent a refrigerated/freezer cart near Sturgis?

Hey mike was that event the ballon fest in new smyrna? I was there and it was a total crash. Floridians don’t come out in sleet.

This particular post was meant to focus in on ways to calculate inventory needs for larger events, and we got some good info. Thanks to everyone who replied.

An unexpected bonus was that it succeeded in uncovering a larger topic that Mary, Dave, Nature, Janet, Renee, and many others want to discuss – namely how to do fairs and festivals in general.

I hear you. Stay tuned… I’ve got something up my sleeve.

For now I want to keep this article on-topic regarding inventory estimating methods.

I love your enthusiasm everyone.


Category: Forex

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