This festival is one of the biggest in America for Kansas City Barbecue Society, and gives nice prize money to the barbecue competitors–usually they reward the top ten in four categories which is great. It is also one of Wicomico County’s largest events and brings many people to the event. Normally held in Winterplace Park)wherein lies food beer, and entertainment. Attendance is good, and reviews from the public is favorable.
This year, in reference to the 9th year, (2012) I received 7 emails and 2 letters from food vendors. After doing some thorough investigation, I contacted many more by looking up names on the website. Out of 21 vendors contacted (many more were present), 11 will not be returning and 5 “probably not.” That’s a total of over half of the food vendors upset, but why?
Image Courtesy of Sodahead.
WHAT THE FOOD VENDORS SAID ABOUT PORK IN THE PARK
We received these letters: (excerpts taken out.)
Email #1. “The festival sucked for most of us shoved into what was a parking lot for the public two years ago. They had the food separated into two areas, but the public was used to coming to the one side by the entrance. That side jammed, and only one guy did good on our side, out of 20+ of us. That was because he jammed music, had videos and a light show, and gave out free ribs. It’s sad you have to give away product when you pay $1000 to sit there. We rolled out Saturday night, with about 15 other vendors.”
Email #2. “I am a local who has been selling food at this festival since they started. They are too big for their britches and don’t care about us, the little guys, who supported them the past nine years. They sat me in a vacant lot looking at other vendors doing nothing and gave my old spot to two brand new vendors. I would rather sit home than ever support them again.”
Email #3. “They’ve gotten too big for their britches. The old food coordinator retired and the whole festival went to piss. Too much food, no one making money, and brand new first year vendors in key locations by the wall.”
Email #4. “I tried six times to call and email them about my location. It was a sad surprise on game day. Not to mention they want us to buy Pepsi at absorbent rates however there’s two tents hanging out free bottles. I left Saturday night.”
Email #5 ” It’s sad when famous BBQ places don’t have a line. When I mentioned something to the staff they told me there was nothing they could do and that I should give out free samples too. Since when does a food vendor who pays $900 have to give out free samples to make a dollar? I’m from out of state, and it took me six ours to get here. I will never return and I will make sure to tell everyone I know not to return.”
Letter #1 “I feel that when you are with a show since the beginning, you should be appreciated. They are just selling so many food spaces no one can make money. They must make $30K off food vendors alone.”
SO WE INVESTIGATED MORE
We received many more just like that. Of course we do thorough investigating before posting any bad reviews. So we decided to do a bit of investigating on our own. Weather was good Friday and Saturday. Attendance was good. Sunday there was rain and storms. It is true where most of these vendors sat (in a gravel parking lot) that they had no business, even on a busy Saturday.
We have verified several sources of this:
This year we read this post is from about too much food and how the food vendors were commenting to him (a patron) directly.
We found pictures here on this blog from a Salisbury Local which shows the layout at NOON ON SATURDAY with no vendors having lines, and you can see just how nice the weather was. The author also states his views of the plethora of food in the comments section.
We found Hot Sauce Daily having a video here where he does (later in the video) walk down to the gravel lot, and no one except for Smoke Shack BBQ is doing any business. This is the vendor who was “giving away samples” which you can see here in this video. Note the vendors to the left, and to the right are plentiful, but no business is there.
Then we found it odd that famous East Coast food vendor Big Fat Daddy’s (who has a bunch of twitter followers and often posts about Pork in the Park) had this post about the Pitmasters Filming during that same show stating he had time to walk around and see them at the Pork in the Park. We thought, if he was busy, how we he have time?
We did a little investigating, and sometimes it’s what the vendors aren’t saying is key. We sent additional letters to Big Fat Daddy’s, Holy Smoke and London Court Catering but this is the only response I received:
MY LETTER TO ALL FOOD VENDORS:
Dear Food Vendor:,
I am writing to you from “Food Vendors Beware” website. I know you were a vendor at Pork in the Park in Salisbury, MD. Can you elaborate on this, and would you recommend this festival to others in a favorable or unfavorable light? I am just curious because of subsequent posts I read on blogs and websites. Any information you relay to me officially, will be published. Or you may choose not to use your name and I will publish comments anonymously. Thank you for your time.
Food Vendors Beware.
RESPONSE ALLOWED TO BE PUBLISHED:
Dear Food Vendors Beware,
Thank you for your inquiry. Wayne would like to officially relay the following. Wayne Schafer is a LIFETIME member of the KCBS and promotes BBQ competitions aside from being a food vendor. He has a large twitter base and even runs a BBQ Teams website. I am sure you realize for competitors, this show is wonderful and he has nothing bad to say. Many of his friend compete there and he enjoys that part of it.
That being said he is very upset with the food vending aspect, as are many of his friends who are fellow vendors. In all fairness, Wayne expressed his concerns professionally and outlined in a 2 page email but was sent a letter back defending their actions. Wayne responded back to this, but received no response from Ms. Fulton or her staff. Therefore, he will no longer be attending this festival nor promoting any Wicomico County Tourism events. It is sad to say this probably would not have happened had the former food coordinator been there, who treated kindly and appreciated every vendor.
Wayne would like to add that some of his key issues were:
Two separated food areas, when the public was used to food being in the first area which is prime location as it is something the public is used to. Brand new vendors placed here.
Way too much food and too much duplication. He used to be one of two vendors selling turkey legs, there were five or six this year.
There must have been 30+ food vendors. This is way too many.
He was dissatisfied that vendors were placed in the stone parking lot, which is a gravel lot, hard to walk on and had obstructed views, with the exception of an opening to the food tent. The vendor in front of the food tent did very well and had unobstructed views, which helped. Let’s keep in mind this vendor had to give our samples to get people in. He was the only vendor out of the whole court who did any business. When Wayne mentioned this to the committee in his letter, he was told perhaps he should try samples. He feels that a food vendor should not have to give out free samples if they are paying almost a thousand dollars for a space.
Prior to the festival, his calls and emails went unanswered , and some of this was due to Pork in the Park not removing the old coordinator’s contact info off the website. He was not listed on the website until the last minute. He was not sent a map. Communication was horrific. It wasn’t until the day of the event we realized the new Linda took over, and the old Linda was gone.
Two tents were handing out bottles of Pepsi products, when he complained in his letter they said they were giving out samples in small cups with ice, but this is not the case.
He feels like they didn’t care nor will accommodate any dissatisfied vendors, nor did they want to put justification into his complaints. Truly he feels they don’t care, they are too big and it’s all about real estate.
It’s sad because the food vendors put blame on the KCBS when it’s only sanctioned by them, and Wicomico County Tourism needs a wake up call. We can only hope his speaking out will help change things. We just hope that his words can make a difference for future vendors to be able to at least, make back their rent and expenses. It’s not a show we feel is worthy of attending anymore.
for Wayne Schafer
Connect with Wayne: