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Frame: The Case For Charging Admission

October 4, 2010

I was really looking forward to Boston’s recent Local Food Festival.  The day and the event had the makings of so many things that I love: local food, cooking demonstrations, interesting people, cool organizations, and perfect fall weather. It also had one thing I hate:

Hordes of people.

seriously?

Hordes.

I blame myself for forgetting that free food equals ridiculously bad behavior from the masses. I don’t know how this slipped my mind as I have worked at Earthfest on the Esplanade for the past three years and have literally had to bounce people out of a food sample tent, almost coming to blows over the “one sample per person” rule. But there it was, throngs of people stepping on my feet, pushing me over to get to the Grillo’s pickle table, shoving my friends and I farther and farther apart from one another.

grillo's

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I really, really wish that whoever was running this event had charged admission. Five or ten dollars for a ticket could have gone to support Slow FoodThe Food Project, or Farm Aid, or they could have donated the money to the Greater Boston Food Bank. And it would have weeded out those that were just there for the free samples. As it was, I could barely get near most of the tents, and even though there were some really great things going on, I don’t think that 70% of the people there really cared. If they’d had to buy a $10 ticket, maybe they would have.

Rant aside, my favorite booth was Batch, a fantastic small batch ice cream operation running out of Jamaica Plain. By the time I got to their tent (around the middle of the event) they were out of every flavor except for Cinnamon and Chocolate Bits, which I never would have chosen otherwise. I was happily surprised- it was delicious.  Run by Veronica Janssens and Susie Parish, Batch prides itself on making ice cream free of artificial flavors, artificial colors, and stabilizers. Prepared in small batch (obviously) production at Crop Circle Kitchen, so far they only have 6 flavors – Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla Bean, Mocha Chip, Salted Caramel, and Cinnamon and Chocolate Bits.  It’s definitely quality over quantity, but I’d say six is a pretty good number- I’d be perfectly happy to never taste another flavor. As I’ve seen with a lot of small companies, quality can be drastically diluted once they add more products or flavors to their line.

Other items of note:

Boston’s First Grilled Cheese Truck…

…and this picture of a cow.

Frankly, after an hour of being poked and prodded and unable to get near most of the tents, we had to tap out and get some beers nearby. Which turned out to be a pretty good alternate plan, after all.

beers are better than crowds

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