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Photo Courtesy of Donovan Metcalf: “Past the Bridge”

Long lines ended up being the theme of the first ever Wichita Taco Fest.

What was originally an excellent idea had some poor execution and lessons to be learned if and when a second one takes place next year.

I had so many friends, family, and co-workers with tickets in advance who didn’t want to stand for 45 minutes to get in and wait another 20 minutes in line for tacos. It was pre-purchased tickets that had gone to waste. For friends that were able to get in, they were lucky to only try a few tacos due to long lines or vendors running out.

Wichita Taco Fest

When I received word of the event taking place, I messaged one of the event operators to see if tickets would be limited. As someone who has planned many events in the past, I felt limiting tickets for a first time event would be the best route to go. Limiting tickets would give everyone including food vendors an exact number of what to expect for turnout.

While the start of Taco Fest was delayed due to health inspectors taking a little longer than expected, lines started to wrap around both sides of Union Station. What was unfortunate was when I arrived around 12:15, they had the exact same lines for whether you had a ticket or not. Separating those lines would have been more ideal.

One vendor I spoke to who wish not to be named told me that they were told to prepare food for 500-1,000 people. If that was actually the case, that was really poor planning.

Another suggestion I would give Wichita Taco Fest is to increase the price of tickets to include the price of tacos. At ICT Bloktoberfest, people were given punch cards. Each time you tried out a vendor, they punched your ticket so show you’ve been to that particular vendor. It made the process run smoother and saved the time of having to deal with paying each taco vendor one customer at a time.

Location is also a thing to reconsider. If they hold it again at Union Station, limiting tickets is almost a must. If they get the same turnout, exploring other venues should be discussed at the very least.

Possibly speaking with other successful event organizers like those that run Downtown Chili Cook Off, Midwest Beerfest and others to gain ideas on how to better run a festival would be of good use.

Just looking at the turnout alone, it’s obvious Wichita loves these types of events. When you mix in food that everyone loves, making it family oriented and having it outside, it’s going to draw big crowds. Looking at the reviews online from Wichita Taco Fest, they were getting torn up left and right from many unhappy people and deservedly so. The people are the customers; the ones you aim to please.

Here’s to hoping that Wichita Taco Fest can learn from these mistakes, really build on them and earn back some goodwill. As stated earlier, it’s a great idea. If they can get it right, it could turn out to be one of the best food fests to take place every year.

And if the rumored Wichita Pizza Fest does in fact take place later this year, hopefully they can learn from these mistakes as well.

Happy Dining,

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