Cider Corner: Who Staffs Your Next Festival?

A craft beverage festival can be a great outlet to connect with consumers that may have not yet  heard of your product. So making that first impression can be vital in creating a consumer. As a cidery, you want your first meeting to be the best and having the right staff on hand can be important.

Laws may dictate who can serve your cider directly to a consumer at the festival, but having a representative is key as well to speak on the product.

With their brand still being new and growing, Olga Dressler said she and her husband Brian try to be the faces since they are still the entire company.

“Especially with our business model not including a tasting room, it’s important for us to meet our customers directly and it gives us the opportunity to grow our partnerships organically,” she said of their Dressler Estate’s brand.

The entire staff for Meriwether Ciders are Certified Cider Professionals and are trained on how to represent the brand and pour cider at events, said the cidery’s Molly Leadbetter.

“They are responsible for everything from loading up all the correct equipment/marketing materials to manning the booth and answering questions, to taking everything down and loading up the van at the end,” she said.

Finding the right fit helps as well so that your cidery is getting maximum exposure and benefit from the event.

Neil Kennedy of Turquoise Barn Cider initially was going to any festival that would take them, and with limited production that just didn’t work, he said.

“Especially since we would donate our cider and sacrifice sales because of it,” he said. “We then took the very blunt approach to only participate in festivals that paid for the cider. This was mostly out of frustration with someone selling our donated product and making a profit off of us, as well as only having a limited supply of cider.”

Recently, Turquoise Barn started doing smaller tasting events at bottle shops and retail stores.

“These let you have a more personal connection with customers that are soberer, and also gives a more tangible outcome when product is sold as a result,” Kennedy said. “We’ve had people buy entire cases on the spot at these small tastings.”

Now the San Diego cidery does a mix of larger paid festivals, smaller charity events in its local community, and small tasting events at retailers.

Kennedy noted what has been interesting has been the shift of attendees at festivals at the same time.

“When we started (roughly four years ago) we would see beer buyers from local restaurants at these festivals looking for new products to carry,” he said. “We would come home with a stack of about a dozen business cards. Now we’re lucky if we meet one beer buyer at a festival.”

Brian Dressler said it depends on the target market your cidery is looking for.

“We’ve been to festivals where the attendees won’t say a word, just hand you a glass, and you hand back the filled glass without saying anything,” he said. “That format might fit for a cidery trying to dominate a distribution area with massive volume, but we’ve found our target customer cares about the product and the story behind it.”

Dressler’s tries most festivals at least once, and the ones that don’t seem the right vibe they have said they will sit out in the future.

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