How did the event start?
Brian Baumann: We started a cider company right around three years ago, so that was really the catalyst for us starting a festival, but if somebody had told me how successful it would’ve been, I would’ve started these a long time ago. It’s brought a lot of people to us, a lot of new people. We started with 10 cider vendors, and last year we were close to 20. These are all budding companies, a lot of mom-and-pop places, and each of these companies is really working hard on getting visibility for themselves. All of them have really great email lists and social media programs. I had 20 different grassroots marketing companies getting the word out about coming to Bauman Farms for a weekend to try their cider. I can’t tell you how many friends in the industry come to our Cider Festival and say, “The people who are here are the people who we’re trying to reach, and we’re having a hard time doing that.” It’s young families and first-time homebuyers, people who are finally getting that discretionary income that we need in order for them to buy flowers as well. Cider seems to really be a good connection to that demographic.
Let’s Talk Logistics
Baumann: Obviously, we’re dealing with alcohol so you have to work on different licensing in your area, and you have to have food. There are different ways on how cider festivals work, but essentially how we work it is that I guarantee I’m going to buy so much cider from each of the vendors. They’re getting the sale, and then it’s my responsibility to sell it. The only thing I ask from them is that somebody is there to pour it. It’s in the greenhouse, and as long as I have a pallet of ice and each cidery gets a 6-foot table, they take care of the rest. We’ve ranged in price for attendees. We found that when we did $20, you got 10 pours or more, but people weren’t drinking that much. We found a sweet spot to be $14, which gets you eight tickets and a commemorative glass that you use for each 2-ounce pour. You can come back and buy more tickets. I’m getting over a dollar for every 2 ounces of cider sold, so it ends up being pretty profitable too.
How do you advertise?
Baumann: Social media is it. That’s where it’s at with this — Facebook event, Instagram post, event postings on Facebook. I have a pretty big ad buy that time of the year [September] for the Harvest Festival, so it gets mentioned in radio and TV, but in terms of directly promoting the event, it’s social media. The other thing I do is bring in a couple sponsors for it. I talked about how it’s this younger demographic, and there’s plenty of businesses that want to get ahold of them and get in front of those people. For example, I found a local car dealership that paid for all of my glassware, which those were about a buck a piece. They paid for all of it so long as they could put their name on it. Our Cider Festival logo was on one side of it, and Capitol Chevrolet was on the backside. I count the number of glasses because everybody has to have a glass. The first year we had just under 1,000 people, then it was up to 1,500, and last year we blew through 2,000 glasses. I was running down to IKEA to find more little glasses to sell, which is a very good problem to have.
Baumann: Cider in general has really expanded and really exploded. Surprisingly it appeals to men and women. I don’t think a lot of beer is typically marketed and branded toward women. Cider is much more gender neutral I think; that’s the feel I get from it. We do it as a two-day event, Saturday and Sunday. Everyone’s ID gets checked at the door, so we do allow families into the area, but you have to be 21 to get a wristband and nobody gets poured any beverage without a wristband. We decided a long time ago that to reach that younger millennial demographic was through their children, so we have a playground on site that kids play on, and that’s free and open to families. We have activities year-round for kids, which has been a really important part of what we do and how we reach out to families in our area. We are a little unique in that we’re on a farm, so we have farm animals and stuff too. We tie in a lot of family activities to go with the Cider Festival, so the kids are out playing with dad and the moms are in having cider and then visa-versa.