Organizers of Long Beach's first bacon festival said they will reassess next year's event after receiving dozens of negative reviews related to crowds, long lines and a shortage of food.
Numerous attendees took their gripes to websites such as Yelp, which have a significant influence on consumers. Most of the animus was targeted at the organizers for what attendees described as a lack of preparation.
Organizers Mark Entner, CEO of Absolute Event Solutions, and Steve Sheldon, director of Entertainment Events at the Queen Mary, however, say they're ready to move forward and start work on a bigger, better bacon festival next year.
“We did not expect the demand that we got, especially with a first-time event,” Entner said. “After we saw demand for the lunch session, we discontinued sales of dinner (tickets). The complaints we've received, we're trying to talk to everyone individually.”
The festival, called the Big Bite Bacon Fest, featured a variety of bacon dishes and a beer tasting. It billed itself as “A Food and Entertainment Experience of Epic PORK-portions,” but attendees reportedly found long lines and felt constrained by the short window of time available to get food.
For the festival's lunch session, VIP ticket holders had from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to get food. General admission ticket holders were let in at noon and had until 2:30 p.m. to eat. The dinner session began with VIP ticket holders from 4-7:30 p.m. and general admission from 5-7:30 p.m.
Although VIP ticket holders reportedly enjoyed short wait times, food began to run out as general admission ticket holders streamed in.
“It really goes down to this being a first-time event,” Entner said.
Sheldon said that three food vendors that were slated to participate in the festival were not awarded permits by the city.
“We found out at the last minute,” he said.
Entner and Sheldon said they attribute reports of vendors running out of food to increased demand at some booths.
“We had more vendors who had food left over than (vendors) that didn't,” Sheldon said. “(Vendors) all bring more food than they think they need.”
Entner said he hopes to include more vendors who can serve food quickly next year to help keep lines short. He also hopes to provide additional cooking space for vendors working out of food trucks.
“Some of these vendors, they're not used to producing thousands of items in an hour,” he said. “They were overwhelmed by the demand as well.”
Entner and Sheldon said they are in the process of meeting with vendors and reviewing customer complaints.
“At this point, we're reviewing everything,” Entner said. “The ideal for next year is to take the excitement and the demand, and really to be able to accommodate that demand.”
Contact Greg Yee at 562-499-1476