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I Ran Off and Joined the Carnival…

For the Weekend…

I was accepted into the Mustang Mania Fall Festival in Bradenton, Florida for the Mini Donut Booth last weekend and I drove 9 hours from Atlanta to Bradenton on Friday to be there to setup early Saturday morning.

The festival was a fundraiser for the music program of the local high school.  It was their first year in operation and they definitely had some bugs to work out.  The organizers emphasized to me on the phone before I committed to the festival that they expected at least 3,000 people and possibly a lot more.  I reality, I’m not sure they had more than a 300 at any one time- and that’s pushing it!

Because it was so far away and it turned cold at night, I opted to stay in the local roach motel.  Between the lodging costs, fuel costs, and food costs this show was costing me more than the last two shows to participate.  The good news, the organizers didn’t charge a fee for the show instead they charged 25% of gross sales and insisted we use tickets instead of cash to verify accurate sales.

I confirmed the show was free admission after my last experience at the Sherman Fall Festival which they charged $4 per adult but I failed to ask about parking.  These folks didn’t charge to enter the festival but they charged a mandatory $5 for parking instead.  Call it what you will- but a fee is a fee.

When I arrived they located my mini donut booth next to the Carnival company they hired for the weekend.  Carnies are everything you’d expect.  In this rare case, all the sterotypes are true!  The man that ran the mini carousel had no legs and walked on aluminum prosthetics.  The operator of the slide looked like he just got released from prison with the black eye to add to the image.  The woman that ran the swinging ship looked older than the stars with a mild hunchback and there was a younger gentleman that helped setup and breakdown the carnival that was literally a rectangle of mass.  Not exactly FAT but a solid rectangle of flesh and bone.

While the show was a super dud (I thought the last show was a dud, making this one a SUPER dud), I once again met many interesting people, was awarded with kind advice and encouragement and most importantly was able to sell enough to escape with the hair on my chinny chin chin (i.e.- I broke even).

So for those of you following our illustrious and glamorous adventures thinking festivals and fairs may be YOUR ticket to a life of freedom and adventure here are some fundamental rules I am starting to develop regarding which show to AVOID:

  1. avoid fairs and festivals that are new
  2. avoid shows that use tickets instead of cash
  3. avoid shows that charge more than $500 to enter while you’re learning.
  4. avoid events touted as”BBQ cook-offs”
  5. avoid small music events
  6. avoid events that charge admission if any of the above apply
  7. avoid shows that are purely fundraisers- the non profits undercut your prices.

For the mini-donut booth here are some of the things I am looking for in a good event:

  1. minimum attendance of 5,000 people
  2. lot’s of arts & craft vendors
  3. an event with a long history

While we are not RAKING in the dough (pun intended), we are learning some valuable lessons we can use to start the next season come April after we leave the boat in the beautiful Sea of Cortez.  I’m still trying to book a few more events around the arrival of our second child with the hopes of increasing our meager savings account to hold us over for the winter on the boat.  Between the remodels I have with friends and the shows we have booked I am still optimistic that we will leave for Mexico with enough cash to hold us over on the boat for 4 months and get us started back in the fair business next year.

After that, skies the limit…

You know an ICE COLD draft beer in Mexico is a very affordable price of approximately $1.25! Click Here to Buy Us a Beer.

1 comment to I Ran Off and Joined the Carnival…

  • It seems to me that you have found your new product roasted nuts, I hope that it works well for you. I like your list of fundamental ruals, what can you say about weather. gald to hear the family life is going so well. I feel you will do well, and hope that everything works for you.
    steve