The Irish Vegan Festival was held in Belfast at the Waterfront Exhibition Centre last Saturday. After the grand success of last years event, the organisers found a much bigger venue for this year. This resolved all the issues visitors encountered last year with queuing in lines in the rain for hours on end due to the capacity of the smaller venue. This new venue is much bigger! The stalls are further a part and there is a lot more room to wander about. The increase in size has also allowed for more stall holders. If you didn’t come last Saturday due to your experience with queuing the previous year, you really missed out! There was no waiting around. There is another event on the 14th of October this year. Don’t miss out! http://www.irishveganfestival.com/
Off the back of my success at last year’s festival, I decided to have a stall again this year. I planned to sell many of the same products because they sold really well. I was also contacted by a few people (some people I knew, others were unknown to me) asking if I was going to be selling at this years event which definitely helped me decide to do it. The event organisers were predicting double the amount of visitors we had last year due to the venue move and the pre-sale of tickets. If it weren’t for two other big festivals and shows that day, this might have been true. Unfortunately though we had the competition of another Vegan festival on the same day in Ireland and also a huge agricultural 3 day event.
In preparation for the event I cooked for 11 hours every day for the 6 days leading up to the event. I had about 4 times the amount of stock I had last year. The fridge and freezer was bursting at the seams! I had 7 varieties of Bliss Balls, Shortbread, Rocky Road chocolate bars and 2 types of cupcake-Choc Mint and Summer Fruit. I bought endless amounts of ingredients and spent a week in a cooking bubble. Thanks to the ‘Serial’ and ‘Someone Must Know Something’ podcasts, I made it through the week!
My housemate had decided to help me on the stall on Saturday as last year there were rows in front of my stall 4 deep all day and I didn’t come up for air. However due to the bigger venue this year and a less frenzied atmosphere, it was a much more relaxing day.
The cupcakes always fly off the table. I made 100 of them the day before and I anticipated it wouldn’t be enough but it’s hard to keep cupcakes fresh and cook them in advance. I need to re-think this as the cupcakes are hot sellers and I could just have a stall of them. People buy 4 at a time! The Bliss Balls sold steadily but I did have literally hundreds of them so I realised pretty quickly that I wouldn’t sell them all. The shortbread sold well and I did get some rave reviews about it. I was just testing the water with that product. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much success with the Rocky Road chocolate bars. I thought they would be a real hit but sometimes you can’t predict it and I did make tonnes of them. However those who did buy them, loved them and came back for more! So it’s all a process of learning and I know in future which products sell best.
Having less visitors through the festival than anticipated left me with quite a bit of Bliss Ball stock. Wanting to regain my freezer space again, I decided to advertise packs of the Bliss Balls for collection and I have done a roaring trade! I’ve had an amazing response and met lots of lovely people who have come out of their way to collect these packs from me. It’s been so successful that I might do it this way in future. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response! It’s been great!
As to whether I will have another stall at the October event, time will tell. All dependent on my work commitments at the time. If not, I hope to go as a visitor as the one thing about being a stall holder is that you never really get to experience the festival and try other people’s food and products. Watch this space!