Carnivals and festivals attract a wide array of attendees. Pay attention to the audience at the event, such as a city music festival audience versus school carnival attendees, when you are deciding on the right types of food and craft booths. There are also craft and food items that sell well regardless of the venue. Consider price points and the cost of being at the carnival or festival as you determine the top items to sell.
While the activities and atmosphere of a carnival or festival are the initial attraction, just about everyone loves the indulgences of fair food. Fair food usually encompasses sweet, savory and just plain bad-for-you foods you don't eat anywhere else. Fair food staples include turkey legs, corn dogs, chili dogs and smoked sausage dishes with a side of grilled corn on the cob or chili cheese fries. Certain regional areas boast fish tacos, crawfish or alligator dishes. Themed food trucks are increasingly popular at carnivals and festivals.
Most carnivals aren't complete without at least one deep-fried indulgence such as fried pickles, fried Twinkies or fried doughnuts. Funnel cakes, cotton candy and churros are also widely popular dessert items loved by children and adults alike. Kettle corn is the standard fan favorite for a salty-sweet treat.
Jewelry, art and home goods are popular items commonly found at carnival and festival booths around the country. Trends vary every year with artisan vendors who maintain a mix of timeless treasures and new styles. Jewelry items remain popular annually; typical items include semiprecious stone necklaces, earrings and rings. Trendy items include pocket watches and lockets. Some are original pieces while others are refurbished or repurposed antiques. Think about practical craft items, too – blankets should go down well if the weather is poor.
Inspirational sayings framed as stylish and colorful typography prints provide options for young and old. Vendors who sell stained glass, window sun catchers and wall decor remain popular. Wooden toys, kaleidoscopes and other unique toys are popular at family events.
Original art and photography prints continue to line the booths at festivals around the country. Fine art booths appease consumers who seek a variety of items from small wall hangings to large modern pieces from upcoming artists. Unique sculptures are also popular in higher-end art festivals or city fairs where artists might have exposure to attendees with deeper pockets to buy specialty pieces.
Art or musical festivals sometimes also have pop culture memorabilia. Iconic prints and posters from music, movies and art sell well in the right geographic market. While signed items might be offered, rare items might be reserved for more secure sales or a silent auction.
Things to Consider
Whatever you decide to sell, make sure you have permission from the carnival's promoter and the correct state license for selling at shows. You might also consider taking out some liability insurance to protect you in case things go wrong – what if someone gets food poisoning from your stall, for example? Finally, be sure to add the cost of goods, booth and licensing fees and transportation costs to an extra 15 percent or more to ensure profitability at festivals and fairs.