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March 8, 2017 Staff

How Much Do Food Truck Vendors Make at Fairs & Festivals on Average?

Ever been waiting in line at a fair or festival and wonder how much those food trucks or concession stands are making? Well, there’s actually a pretty simple formula you can use to estimate the sales a food truck will make at per event. If you’re considering this as serious business venture, you can also use this estimate when conducting the financial planning for your business.

Ice cream is a popular product at fairs. 

The short answer, of course, is that each festival is different and will yield different sales numbers. Bigger events that attract more potential customers will generate more sales for a truck. A vendor that sells deep-fried pickles may have a more in-demand product than the soft-pretzel guy. Rain might discourage an otherwise large crowd from attending. These are just a handful of variables to keep in mind when estimating sales per event. Now that we’ve got out disclaimers out of the way on to the good stuff!

How to Estimate Food Truck Income at a Festival or Fair?

According to many food truck vendors we’ve spoke asked, they estimate that you will sell meals to about 5% of the size the total number of people at an event. So on average one in every twenty people that attend an event will placed an order with you. Now let’s make a couple back-of-the-napkin financial projects with these estimates!

Event #1: Local Strawberry Festival

Expected Attendance: 1,000 people

Expected Sales (5% of Expected Attendance): 50 Transactions

Gross Sales Estimate (Assuming $8 Average Transaction): $400

Cost of Goods Sold AKA Food Costs (Assuming 33% Food Cost):  $132

Net Income After Food Costs for Strawberry Festival: $268


Event #2: Tri-City Music Blues Festival

Expected Attendance: 5,000 people

Expected Sales (5% of Expected Attendance): 250 Transactions

Gross Sales Estimate (Assuming $8 Average Transaction): $2000

Cost of Goods Sold AKA Food Costs (Assuming 33% Food Cost):  $660

Net Income After Food Costs for Strawberry Festival: $1,340


Event #3: Weekly Music at the Park

Expected Attendance: 200 people

Expected Sales (5% of Expected Attendance): 10 Transactions

Gross Sales Estimate (Assuming $8 Average Transaction): $80

Cost of Goods Sold AKA Food Costs (Assuming 33% Food Cost):  $26.40

Net Income After Food Costs for Strawberry Festival: $53.60


Selecting the Right Events

As you can see from the three simple examples listed above, 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 segways into the next 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. Corporate office parks, small-town parades, charity events, fairs and more. Your ability to be able to sort out the good financial opportunities from the bad ones is a skill you’ll need to hone. As noted in the Weekly Music at the Park example above, if you happen to be vending at an event with just a couple hundred people the income simply won’t be there for you. You can still vend at these smaller events, but if you do make sure it is a catering event where you are pre-paid for your services and know what your profit will be up front.

One final point to watch out for when selecting events. If you are speaking to a promoter or owner of an event, it’s natural for those individuals to inflate the estimated number of attendees at an event. It’s these peoples jobs to make the event seem exciting and like a great opportunity, especially if you are required to pay a free to vend there. Paying a fee to vend can make sense in instances you know there will be an enormous crowd like at a state or county fair. But if you’ve never heard of the event and the promoter wants a couple hundred bucks for an entry fee, feel free to pass and move on to the next opportunity.

We hope this post has given you some additional insight into how much a food truck will make at a festival. If you’re looking for more information on this topic or are looking for lists of potential places to vend in your area, check out the additional resources below.

Food Truck Owners Annual Salary? – Find out how much revenue you could expect to generate in a year. – Awesome resource for locating craft fairs, music festivals, and other events across the United States. Great resource for finding well attended vending locations nationwide. – Another resources for finding art fairs and other events happening in the United States and Canada.

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