Before we started the DMV Chocolate & Coffee Festival we spent 4 years traveling the entire country as vendors, visiting all 50 states, selling at events, festivals, state fairs, and more! After participating in over 100 events, we found our favorites and would love to share them with you :) Our criteria for picking these events over all others is based on three major factors: the success of sales, the quantity & quality of attendees at the show, and the overall experience! In general they should be great shows for everyone, but you know your product better than everyone so be sure to discern how different geographical regions and time of year could impact your product sales.
In no particular order, here are our top picks:
Plymouth Art in the Park & Milford Memories (Michigan)
Two of the most populated events we’ve ever been a part of, Art in the Park and Milford Memories! Both are huge outdoor street fairs that take place every summer; Plymouth in July and Milford in August. Both Plymouth and Milford are suburbs of Detroit, so they are very well populated and have a high median income. While you can’t exactly say for sure how many people attend, we estimate that at least 250,000 people fill the streets over the three days of each event to shop from over 500 different vendors. If you’re selling a packaged food product like we were, be ready to give out a lot of samples! Trust us though, it’s worth it!
P.S. If you're looking to spend a whole summer in Michigan, send us an email or DM for a super fun route that covers multiple festivals across the state!
Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, Maine)
After visiting all 50 states we can say pretty confidently that Maine has some of the best food we’ve ever tasted, and we’re not just talking about the lobster! The Maine Lobster festival occurs in the beginning of August every year. This is a 5 day event that has been around for quite some time. They have a dedicated arts and crafts tent for vendors, but if you’re a gourmet food vendor like us you might prefer to be out on the main streets where more action is. The weather is wonderful that time of year, and the Festival brings our people from across the entire nation. We met a lot of people from Northern Virginia, Maryland, and even Florida who traveled just to attend the festival. The show even gives you a coupon as a vendor to enjoy some delicious lobster included in your booth price! Since this event is so popular, it is best to book accommodations very early!
Southwest Chocolate and Coffee Fest (ABQ, New Mexico)
This is easily one of our all time favorites, and part of the inspiration for bringing a similarly themed event to the east coast! This is personally our favorite style of event: indoor, highly attended, with a ticketed entrance. This means serious shoppers if they are paying an entrance fee just to shop! The event atmosphere was truly unlike any other event we ever sold at; people - even the vendors - were happy, smiling, and just overall so friendly. Maybe it’s just the city of ABQ or maybe it's the chocolate and coffee making everyone so happy! For us it was extremely worth it to fly out with all of our show supplies and to ship products across the country to participate. We know the promoter, Dean with Blue River Productions, and he told us he’d be happy to offer a discount if you’re willing to travel across the country to participate in their upcoming festival on April 6 & 7. Learn more by clicking here.
Mt Dora Craft Fair & Mt Dora Blueberry Festival (Florida)
If you look up Mt Dora on a map you might be second guessing if these events are actually worth traveling for. After doing events in over 15 cities in Florida, including Jacksonville and Miami, Mt Dora easily brings out the best crowd full of dedicated shoppers! Sunshine Artist Magazine has continually ranked this one of the top five festivals in the nation for many years! The main craft fair occurs in October while the Blueberry Festival occurs in April. Both events take place outdoors and the streets are lined with so many customers. Again, if you’re a gourmet foods vendor be ready to hand out a lot of free samples, but it’s worth it! Also, while not required, having a blueberry themed product will certainly help increase sales during the blueberry festival!
Vintage Market Days (Raleigh & Asheville, NC)
Vintage Market Days is a great nationwide franchise show company with events all over the country. We have tried many of their locations and North Carolina has had the best results for us. What we love about these shows is that the booth fees are some of the lowest we’ve encountered! Most vendors who sell are antique dealers, but they also have a variety of gourmet foods vendors, fashion, and other crafters. The only downside is that it can be hard to get accepted to their events the first time. We had to try a few other events with them before getting accepted into these two. Spaces fill up super fast because of the affordable booth fees so be sure to apply ASAP and definitely check out some of their other locations as well, but keep in mind that certain locations perform a lot better than others from our experience.
We found all of these shows worth traveling to. There’s something special about taking your product across the country to new cities, new places, & new people! Especially if you have a product that people can purchase again online easily, this is a fun way to enjoy travel while growing your business. Of course our favorite show of all is our own, the DMV Chocolate and Coffee Festival, it’s the first event we started by ourselves and we love every single one of our vendors! We strive to draw from our experiences at every event we’ve been to, in order to bring together the best aspects of each, creating a successful, unique and new experience for both exhibitors and attendees.
What about you? Tell us your favorite festivals and events, especially ones you’ve traveled to - even if it’s the next town over!