This weekend we attended our very first festival dedicated to hot sauce, BBQ sauce and other spicy foods. The vibe was definitely different from some of the previous shows we’ve been to. There were so many things going on including games, contests, lots of sampling and even some dueling pianos! Held at the Oscar Event Center that snuggles up against the Jungle Jim’s Fairfield location with a vendor set up and greet on Friday followed by two days of ticketed entry this is a show for serious spice enthusiasts.

The first thing we discovered was what people are doing to make their booth stand out. Everyone has their own approach and there is so much to see. Signage is pretty consistent with vinyl signs being the most used, but we also saw tapestries, full paneling and some with very nice logo’d tablecloths. We saw lots of props on the tables with different variations that will hold bottles of product and make them stand out. Everything from snap together corrugate platforms that look like half of an awesome stadium to wire metal shelving and beautiful stained wooden boxes and platforms. People really get going on creating a “scene” for their booth and it really does draw folks in.

And drawing folks in was the name of the game. This is a heavy sampling event. People know they can get your product downstairs and so they spend a lot of time moving through as much tasting as they can handle, collecting business cards. It was an absolute blast to be able to spend a few minutes explaining our sauces to so many people. Don’t get me wrong, we had great sales, but the treasure was in the exposure for us. People would ask about the company and when they discovered we were only a month old most were amazed. We got some very positive feedback and quite a few folks purchased all three sauces. They also really liked the logo and shirts. People would come up and ask what was up with the “meditating fire and crown thing” and at first I thought they didn’t get it. Then they would listen and be like “I love it!.” We sold a ton of shirts and stickers in addition to hot sauce and that’s so cool.

The games included the “Wheel of Fire.” Basically a wheel is labeled with as many as 20 different peppers and which ever one it lands on you are handed that pepper.  You can eat it for a prize or decline. Most folks ate the pepper they landed on because that’s the game they played and we saw some strong people brought to tears by their spin. Hilarious. The food eating competitions were loud and energetic. People were trying to eat super spicy stuff quickly and were not allowed to do things like touch their water or get up from the table without being disqualified. The piano music was great. We love music and having it live was a real treat that helped keep us energized and yapping.

All in all it was a great weekend and we can’t wait for next year. We took away a few ideas about how to make our booth shiny but what we really celebrated was the chance to hone our messaging and get people to understand our products in a sea of choices. I think we did well and I look forward to using these new skills with others very soon.

Thanks for reading,

J

Jeffrey McElfresh

Jeffrey McElfresh is a co-owner and founder of JuicyMelt Supreme Hot Sauce.
Jeffrey McElfresh

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