Event Planning: Marketing Local Food

Sponsoring a local food event in your community can not only show your commitment to local growers and food producers, it can be a profitable way to bring together the public and provide needed publicity for your business, charity or municipality. With summer turning to fall, there are many opportunities for event planning such as harvest dinners, farmers markets and late summer festivals. Seasonal events such as these offer many ideas for local food marketing.

A well planned local food event has 3 key elements for success:

  1. Know your event’s theme and stick to it!
  2. Fully promote your event
  3. Stay within Your budget

Know your event’s theme and stick to it!


A consistent presentation of your event’s theme is the key to success. Your theme should be represented by the food served, the décor, the music and the atmosphere. For example, an Autumn Harvest celebration could showcase locally pumpkins, pears and apples in traditional pies and butters. Remembering your purpose is to sell local food, locally grown potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and onions should all be displayed as key ingredients in traditional autumn harvest dinners. Having the recipes on hand for customers will encourage them to buy the ingredients and make the dishes at home. Localfoodmarket.co Visually appeal to your customers with traditional harvest themed décor with cornstalks, pumpkins, and gourds. High spirited music will round out the event and provide a fun and lively atmosphere.


Fully Promote Your Event

A well attended event is a properly promoted event. While a local food event is focused on your community, a properly promoted local food event can bring in new customers from neighboring communities. You should promote your event early, and promote it often!
The first promotional decisions to be made are the name of your local food event, the date and the theme. Once you have made these decisions, go with them and don’t look back! Use this information on every piece of promotional literature printed, on your web site and in your press releases. Also consider selling event merchandise such as t-shirts and tote bags and contact your vendor.
Four to six weeks before the event, start your in-store promotions. Have attractive banners or posters made and prominently display them in key locations around your neighborhood, business district and community centers. If you own a retail business, printing up flyers can be an inexpensive promotional tool that you can slip into every customer’s shopping bag. Clearly state your event information on your flyers or invitations! Here are some avoidable pitfalls which can be taken care of by good planning and proofreading:


  • Your invitation should represent the event. If it’s a party, make sure your invitation or flyer is fun, welcoming and eye-catching!An invitation for one event was mailed to 200+ potential guests in a business envelope. Our guess is that for many, it resembled just another piece of junk mail and it was ignored. Only 30+ people were in attendance.


  • Make it easy for guests to locate your event! An attractive flyer advertising your event is great, but ineffective if it does not include the address where your event is to be held. Including a map on the face of the flyer is an added bonus for your guests. One recently attended event had sub-par attendance because although the many sponsors were noted on the event flyer, the host location was not!


  • If you are sponsoring a benefit event, clearly state the recipient charity or organization on your promotional materials. Even unintentionally misleading your guests can lead to bad press and a poor reputation in your community. At a harvest dinner hosted by an organic farm, a banner clearly stated, “Support your local farmers at [this dinner]” yet proceeds actually went to an international food movement.

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