When I go to music festivals, it’s not just about the music.
I also always look for something special to bring home with me to remind me of the trip. Generally, I’m on the look-out for a piece of unique jewelry, artwork, or an article of clothing that I don’t think I’ll find anywhere else. Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion prides itself on bringing in vendors that offer one-of-a-kind items, so the only disappointments I have are the purchases I didn’t make – like not taking the time to eat Island Noodles or forgetting to pick up a jar or two of local honey.
One of my biggest retail regrets EVER? Not taking home a killer, handpainted silver jacket – embellished with the image of David Bowie from Aladdin Sane across the back. It wasn’t my size, but it was amazing and I really, really wanted it. I walked past it a few times and then it was gone, sold to some young kid who was likely only just discovering The Starman’s genius. Still, I do like thinking of this Southern Appalachian middle schooler with “Rebel, Rebel” swagger wearing that jacket – Bowie is surely smiling down in full appreciation, so all is as it should be.
Of the food vendors, my favorite treat is King of Pops. I met one of the owners, Nick Carse, at the Southeast Festivals & Events Conference many years ago and begged him to bring their pops to Bristol. Family-owned and based in Atlanta, King of Pops has an amazing business model and mission, and they make the tastiest gourmet popsicles EVER with flavors you won’t find anywhere else like Thai Iced Tea, Pineapple Habanero, and Chocolate Sea Salt. No joke, I literally chased them out to the parking lot at the end of the festival one year so I could stock up!
But it never fails. Every year around August or early September, I get an email or DM from someone who wants to be a vendor at Bristol Rhythm. Guys. Seriously, that’s just too late. In fact, if you want to be a food or craft vendor at the festival, the deadline for applications is March 31, 2018!
Here are the top things you need to know in order to be the ultimate Bristol Rhythm vendor:
1. Be unique. Stand out. Offer something no one else has. Be the “Aladdin Sane David Bowie silver jacket” of vendors.
2. Craft vendors fall into two categories: commercial and handmade items. We lean toward handmade, artisan items that can’t be found in the region.
3. We are not your typical festival – our music stages and vendors are spread throughout Bristol’s historic downtown rather than being located in a large field. Because of this, we want our local businesses to have the chance to shine too so we don’t place vendors in front of their storefronts without getting permission. And we do our best to choose vendors who do not compete with our local businesses.
4. Bristol Rhythm is working hard to be greener each year through its Green Team, and we ask our vendors to help us look after Mother Earth too by using recyclable and compostable containers and cutlery. We also don’t permit Styrofoam, and we offer ways to responsibly dispose of waste water and cooking oil.
5. Our downtown is on the state line and so our festival is literally in two states. Some vendors request placement in either Tennessee or Virginia due to tax purposes. We work closely with them to try and accommodate.
6. We highly recommend vendors place an ad in the festival guide. It’s a great way to get festivalgoers to make your booth part of their festival game plan.
7. We try to rotate vendors as much as possible so as to keep the Bristol Rhythm experience fresh, but we tend to keep vendors who are popular.
8. Food and craft vendors are spread out as evenly as possible so that there are food and beverage options close to every stage. That means that even while you are serving hungry festivalgoers, you’ll probably get the chance to hear some great music yourself!
9. Vendors can be easily located on our festival mobile app through geo-tracking.
10. If you become a Bristol Rhythm vendor, get ready for a long weekend full of hard work. But remember that we are here to help you make that work go as smoothly as possible so that you and our festivalgoers have a fantastic time!
Hopefully all of these facts and tips will prove a help to those interested in becoming part of the Bristol Rhythm family – and so if you want to be a craft/food vendor at Bristol Rhythm 2018, click here. Applicants will be notified by May 18, 2018 whether or not they were selected.