Festival growth eyed

May 30, 2009
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While the first Wine & Food Festival held in DeVos Place last November lost $30,000, the event’s promoters believe a second and larger festival set for this November can produce a margin of $45,000.

The Convention and Arena Authority and Showspan Inc., partners in the annual three-day event, are hoping they can increase revenue for the second festival by $72,000 and reduce expenses by $3,000 to complete the $75,000 turnaround.

Income from sponsorships, ticket sales and booth rental is projected to reach $276,500, topping the $204,000 in total revenue of last year’s event. Total expenses are expected to drop from last year’s mark of $234,400 to $231,400 this year.

Showspan Vice President Henri Boucher said the goal is to sell 40 more booths than the event had last year at $800 per space. Accomplishing that goal would gross $32,000 in new revenue. But Boucher added a cautionary disclaimer.

“I’ve got to be very careful not to sell every corner of the event,” he said, adding that doing so could erase many of the seating areas that were filled for long portions of the festival.

Boucher said the toughest job ahead would be to cement sponsorships for the event due to the recession. He said Harvey Lexus is interested in returning as the presenting sponsor but the dealership hadn’t committed to doing that yet. He also said Meijer Inc. is likely to return as the sponsor of the food stage, and last year’s successful pairings event may grow from two to four restaurants this year.

Boucher said exhibitors that participated last year will get first shots at booth spaces this year. And despite the potential for a larger festival, Boucher wants the event to stay put.

“Our idea is to keep it in the (Steelcase) Ballroom for the intimacy it gives,” he said.

Wine & Food Festival II is set to run Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 12-14.

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