There is no shortage of music festivals in America—and plenty of people eager to attend (32 million, to be exact, according to Billboard).
With hundreds of festivals in existence—and more coming out all the time—many organizers are turning to food programming to make their events stand out. That means turning away from large-scale catering companies, and toward a curated selection of restaurants serving festival-friendly versions of their food. Just take a look at Panorama, the newcomer New York festival that brought in the likes of award-winning spots like Khe-Yo and Nix (Eater was brought in to select food partners). Or Lollapalooza, whose entire food line-up (“Chow Town”) was curated by chef Graham Elliott. Food—and good food, at that—is becoming an essential part of the festival experience.
“It’s a way to differentiate yourself and make yourself feel local,” says Andrew Steinthal, co-founder of the Infatuation, which curated the food lineup for Governors Ball in New York this year (Steinthal also used to work in the music business). “So many of these festivals have similar line-ups, so food and restaurants can be a deal-breaking area.”
Six years ago, he says, this was not the case. “You would go to a festival and there were maybe a few cool local vendors but otherwise it was like you were at a carnival,” he says. “This year we saw so much activity [at Governors Ball] around the food line-up—it’s like a whole other dynamic being brought into the mix.”
But while the idea of participating in a music festival can be an exciting prospect for publicity and extra revenue, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to take part — and ways to maximize your festival experience if you choose to get involved. We spoke to the folks in charge of the food as well as a number of restaurant vendors from major music festivals. Here are their tips. [Read more…]