Have you ever heard of this event? It is pretty impressive. It is a competition between colleges for the Best Marching Bands. When I first heard about it, I pictured it a rather lame assembly of bugles and drums. What I saw was a major production of choreography, flashy costumes, incredibly talented musicians and a whole following of fans that travel from place to place to see these bands compete.
I bring this up because my first experience of one such event was a little over a year ago. We were approached about running the concession stand for one of these events. At the time we had a son playing football and Lacrosse so this was a golden opportunity to raise some money for these Booster Clubs. It was a lot of work for something we really did not know anything about. Plus it was a major risk of putting up the money to buy all the stock and food to work such an event. Luckily we had plenty of help between the usually crew that worked with us at the stand during the football games along with a bunch of the guys from the Lacrosse team.
We were blown away with the whole event. The music was incredible! The showmanship these college kids put into their school bands was phenomenal! All the vendors, equipment, preparation and the precision to which this event was organized.
And in return we were paid the highest compliment for the job we did. People raved about the food we served and the judges gave us a "box 5" which we later found is the highest rating a band can get. So the organizer asked if we would be willing to travel to do another event that same year. We considered it, until she called us back to say it was already booked with another vendor.
We were surprised to hear we were not offered the booth when this competition came back to our city this year. But we did get asked to do the semi-final competition being held on the North Shore. This would be a lot more work. First it was not being held 5 minutes from our house, so we had to figure travel time, coordination of getting equipment, food, staff, and setting up at a place an hour away. We also had to apply for a permit to sell food in a different town.
After looking into the logistics, we said we would do it with the stipulation there were not going to be any other food vendors present.
After all was confirmed, we found out the Semi-final is a much shorter event. It is only 2 hours and does not begin until 8:00 PM. (By now people have already eaten dinner, which is our main sales, we cook food items such as chicken platters, sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches, huge 1/2 pound burgers, etc..).
So after committing to this event, we had to rethink how much stock to buy. Since this was not a Booster event we had to pay staff to work the booths.
Then we had to run around, get all the supplies, rent a truck to transport everything. Temperatures of food products have to be maintained, both cooked and uncooked, so lots of coolers and ice where needed.
You get the drift.
Well, last night was the Big Night. We spent hours the day before bringing as much as we could to the stand and getting things into coolers, refrigerators and freezers so they would be cold. Not counting the hours spent planning, pricing, making signs, shopping, placing stock orders, etc...
Yesterday we had people at our house in the morning to load a car, truck and rental box truck with all the cooking equipment. Once we arrived, we found out we were short one refrigerator in our stand, so we had to come up with another way to keep waters cold. To the store to buy large 40 lb bags of ice. More expense we did not figure in.
We arrived to find there was a courtesy tent set up for VIP's with drinks and food provided for them before the event. The Co-ordinator of the whole event let another vendor come in and sell drinks and food right across from us, even though she told us we would be the only food sales. And she was not even there to try to straighten things out. After calling her on the phone she said she will move this other vendor away from our stands, which she never did once she did arrive.
More hours spent setting up the 2 stands, working the event, repacking what we did not sell (we had tons of food that did not sell), packing up everything, and then cleaning the stands. We got home after 1:00 AM this morning. I just finished doing the math this morning and figured out we earned about $58 for every hour we put into this. That has to still get distributed between the 12 of us that worked the two stands.
We got home so late that 7 people stayed here and slept so I still have to figure breakfast and then driving everyone home. So I guess I should knock down that hourly figure even more.
I do not think we will be volunteering to do future events out of our own home town again.
And thinking about it now...
We were going non-stop that I never even got a chance to see even a minute of the show. Bummer!!!