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Atlanta Taco Festival Failure – Is Atlanta Too Big for Food Festivals?

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Taco Fest, Nacho Best. That about sums up the comments on the First (and last?) Taco Festival Atlanta has ever had.

From long lines, equipment failure and mediocre selections, most festival goers were livid by late afternoon of the one day festival. They took to social media to air their frustrations. So what did the Atlanta Taco Festival organizers do wrong?

As with most festivals in Atlanta, there only seems to be one goal: sell as many tickets as possible. There seems to be no thought put into how much food the vendors actually bring to an event or how quickly they can process each order. And who wants to attend a festival and wait in line for an hour or more just to get one item? Though I didn’t attend the Atlanta Taco Festival, I felt sorry for those that did when I began reading the comments late yesterday. The event page has been taken down, most likely due to the negative comments regarding the Atlanta Taco Festival.

The same problems occurred (though not to the same extent) at the Atlanta Lobster Festival a year and a half ago, which I did attend. When we arrived, we stood in lines about 60 deep, only to have employees tell those just past the halfway mark, they’d be out of food by the time they got to the front. We barely sampled anything before leaving in frustration.

Technical issues. Attendees were given wristbands to be scanned by each vendor for payment for the Atlanta Taco Festival. Bands came pre-loaded with a dollar value from the ticket purchased. Technical problems led to a fiasco with scanners not working. Some lucky folks that had cash were paying vendors with that. Many others were SOL, leaving the Atlanta Taco Festival with money left on their wristbands. If you are using equipment you aren’t familiar with, you better make sure the entire process works smoothly, free from any glitches. And always a good idea to have some sort of backup plan.

Lack of organization. The way I understand the ticket process for the Atlanta Taco Festival, was those unlucky souls that didn’t have a wristband mailed to them, had to wait in line with their ticket receipt to get a wristband. These lines (just to get into the taco festival) varied from 1-2 hours. Also, some commented that while there were long lines at the food trucks, navigating the lines in the tents (at least earlier in the afternoon) were a breeze because many festival goers didn’t know about them. Any festival, especially a festival in its first year, should have staff or volunteers to help expedite the process and answer questions.

Beyond poor organization of festivals (remember what a cluster TomorrowWorld was last fall?), Atlanta may just be too big of a city for outdoor food festivals. Hardly anyone takes MARTA because it isn’t convenient so we all drive and there’s nowhere to park. Because everyone has been locked up all winter, the moment we get that burst of spring, Atlantans flock to any and every outdoor festival. Half the city ends up at a festival that can really only handle a couple thousand, proven at yesterday’s Atlanta Taco Festival epic failure.

Overcrowding. Average food. Standing and eating rather than sitting comfortably. These are a few reasons why I stopped attending food festivals in Atlanta. Can I tell you a secret? I enjoy the food festivals of smaller cities much better. My favorite happens to be just two hours away in Greenville, SC. Looking for a great food festival that underpromises and overdelivers every single year? Think about Euphoria Food,Wine and Music Festival in Greenville, SC. You never have to wait longer than a minute or two for food, there are cheerful volunteers all over willing to assist. Oh and did I mention you can walk to the festival events from your hotel? And this festival happens over the course of THREE DAYS – in the fall when the weather is at its best. Atlanta festival organizers, you could learn a thing or two from Euphoria. As for whoever is behind the Atlanta Taco Festival, I hope you’ll have the decency to refund the many attendees that didn’t get their money’s worth.

For refund requests and complaints regarding the Atlanta Taco Festival, you can send emails here: greenlight@freshtix.com.