With near-perfect weather, south Florida is an ideal place to hold a food festival. And there are dozens, from seafood-centric events like the one in Delray Beach to the mother of all festivals, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Some fetes are free, with people paying for grub as they go, while others charge an entry fee that includes noshing to your hearts content. So, what makes a good festival? Like anything else, it comes down to value for the money.
The Aventura Wine and Food Festival, held this past Sunday at Gulfstream Park, promised guests could "sample more than 40 types of food, desserts and wines" between 1 to 5 p.m. for their $75 ticket. But attendees are saying the festival was disorganized and oversold, causing restaurants to run out of food halfway through the event.
Festival goers took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about long lines, vendors running out of food, garbage strewn all over the grounds, and a lack of bathrooms.
Aventura wine and food festival,,A bad scene, overcrouded, ran out of wine, NOt a pretty site, Garbage all over
— Robert Pinto (@Rob623Rp) January 13, 2014
Aventura wine and food festival sucks! Insane lines, bad organization. 75$ bad deal.
— david sutil (@davidtenk) January 12, 2014
Local food blogger Eleanor Hoh posted a review of the event on her Wok Star site in which she, "only managed to get tastings from 3 restaurants: Mister Collins (Bal Harbour); Toro Toro (Pan Asian fusion inside downtown Intercontinental Hotel) and Fish Fish (North Miami). All served ceviche cause it's the easiest dish to serve!"
In an email to New Times, Thomas Donahue from Delray Beach said that, there was a complete lack of signage and communications at the ticket line and there was not any signage on the whole Gulfstream Park complex to direct people to the event or the parking. There were no personnel available for guidance or questions or to assist with the confusion. Once inside at 2 p.m., only an hour into the event we immediately heard the vendors saying they would be running out of food shortly."
This isn't the first time a festival has gone awry. In 2012, burger festival, The Grind, was closed down early by fire marshals due to poor ventilation, and last year's Miami Fine Chocolate and Food Show proved underwhelming for the $40 price tag, with long lines and few samples.
New Times has reached out to both South Florida Festivals, the show's organizers and Gulfstream Park for comments. We'll update this post with any further information.
UPDATE: A representative for Groupon sent New Times the following message:
"If any purchasers are disappointed by their experience, they can contact Groupon at www.groupon.com/customer_support to receive a refund."
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