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Are food festivals too expensive?

With empty wallets and full bellies, foodies across the country will be feeling the effects of an eventful and expensive festival season in New Zealand.

If you had a dollar for every food, wine or beer festival in New Zealand over the past six months you’d have a whole lot of them and still not have enough for entry into any of these events. Which makes me wonder, are food festivals too expensive?

First up was Wellington on a Plate, which, with crowds at an all-time high, generated more than $2m in direct spending. Then it was Auckland’s turn to pay, with Taste of Auckland demanding $25 for general admission, and $62.50 and $95 for premium and VIP access respectively.

Of course, once you’d paid your entry fee to Taste of Auckland you then had to fork out between $8 and $12 per dish if you wanted to actually try anything (it’s a safe assumption that most dedicated foodies would have tried at least two small plates each).

Devonport’s long-running Food, Wine and Music Festival was similarly expensive, as was the New Zealand Beer Festival at The Cloud, with general tickets going for $39 or a whopping $49 at the door. 

How many beers did that set you back? Well, I can tell you how many: a ticket at the door will cost you the equivalent of 20 tasting pours inside, priced at $2.50 each, or eight cups of beer at $6 each.

Cantab beer lovers had to pay through the nose, too. At Christchurch’s Great Kiwi Beer Festival general admission was $34.50 and designated drivers had to fork out $25. For what, pray tell? To stand around at a beer festival and not drink anything? 

It seems that if these events were free – or at least more moderately priced – they’d attract much larger crowds, which means more business for the food and drink producers involved. 

At Auckland’s free Chinese Lantern Festival earlier this year, for example, the vendors couldn’t have asked for more hungry customers. And across town, the Pakuranga night market is packed with people every Saturday night, paying less for one plate of food than they would for a drink at one of these festivals. (Sure, it’s not always gourmet food but I’m sure people wouldn’t mind paying a little bit more per plate.)

So what do you think – should food festivals be cheaper? Or are we already voting with our wallets that they’re fine priced the way they are?

- Felix Foodcritic

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Comments (1 comments)

  • Luvinspoonful

    These are expensive events.... As is dinner in any top restaurant, a concert at vector or a night at the theatre. A high profit or return ensures that groups or individuals are prepared to take the risk and make the committment and we enjoy the fruits of their very hard labors. Numbers are already very high at the events we attend and I would suggest that door cover charges increase to further promote positive experiences.

    5:38PM, 30th May 2013

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