Event Name: Atlanta Grilled Cheese Fest
Time: 11:30am – 6pm
Cost: GA: $28 (avg.) Grilled Cheese Lovers: $40
Activities: Tastings, Live Music, Tailgate Games, Bloody Mary Garden, Kidzone, Community Vendors
Event Producers: Atlanta Sport and Social Club
Number of participants: 4,400
Fun Facts about the Atlanta Grilled Cheese Event
A FOOD FESTIVAL OF DELICIOUS PROPORTIONS The Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival is coming BACK in 2019 for our cheesiest fest yet on Saturday, April 13th, 2019! Join us to celebrate #NationalGrilledCheeseDay this year with restaurants from all over Atlanta serving up bites of melty, cheesy goodness for your tasting pleasure.
General Admission Tickets include admission to the festival, your first (3) grilled cheese samples, plus live music, and access to our Adult Game Zone and Bloody Mary Garden (21+ if applicable).
Cheese Lover’s Tickets include admission to the festival, your first (6) grilled cheese samples, event koozie, and (2) beer/wines, plus live music, and access to our Adult Game Zone and Bloody Mary Garden (21+ if applicable).
Question & Answer on the Atlanta Grilled Cheese Fest
Interviewer- Felix Goodson, SSIA Events Chair and your Friend
Interviewee- Michelle Fasig, Event Manager, Atlanta Sport and Social
How did your event go?
The event went great! We had over 25 participating restaurants this year serving over 50 different versions of Grilled Cheese. The People’s Choice Winner of the day was from Babalu: Deep Fried Muenster Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes and Candied Bacon. Who doesn’t love deep fried cheese?
Did you hit your goal on numbers of people and overall profit? We did hit our attendance goal, but are still hoping to grow the event even more. As far as profit, we are happy with what we brought in- the Bloody Mary Garden was a huge success- but what we are even more pleased with is the fact that we raised over $5,000 for our charity partners in one afternoon.
What were some of highlights besides the fact that grilled cheese was your main pleaser? We booked some awesome local bands for the event this year that brought a very fun vibe to the overall event. The other biggest crowd pleaser had to have been the Bloody Mary Garden- that tent was consistently slammed. We invited local food vendors to provide samples for the Bloody Marys to “customize” their drink- the bourbon bacon was a huge hit. We also had a build your own toppings bar, multiple types of hot sauce, and three different types of Bloody Mary options. This space was strictly 21+ and included Giant Jenga, corn hole and separate hi-tops. I think attendees appreciated an adult-only zone. We didn’t leave the kids out completely though, we also had a kid zone.
How many pounds of Grilled Cheese were consumed at the event? Over 1,500 lbs. of cheese were harmed in the making of this festival.
What one item did you do different from last year to this year that made a big difference in the right direction? One of the most time consuming and challenging pieces of producing this event is connecting with the restaurants and selling them on the concept. Explaining to a seafood restaurant or a healthy food truck why they should spend their Saturday at our event serving grilled cheese samples when it’s out of their wheelhouse can be a longer conversation. This year we brought on a local PR firm who specializes in the restaurant industry, Via Failla LLC, to help expedite those conversations. This was a game changer for us, as it helped open doors to multiple top Atlanta restaurants and got a lot of attention on social media.
What’s that one item you could of done to make it just a little more over the top? I would love to have everyone at check-in in Grilled Cheese costumes. Or, maybe we even have a “cheesy” costume contest. There are lot of fun ideas left to explore with this concept. Maybe next year the trophies we give out to our first place winners are giant cheese shaped trophies?
Any surprises that you could share that just happen in the event world? Nothing will ever be perfect and event day will be spent pivoting and changing things on the fly. At this event specifically, we had over 75 different vendors including sponsors, community vendors and restaurants. Each of those has their own individual needs and questions. The day of the event is making sure all of these people have what they need to succeed and make the experience fun for attendees. We are a pretty difficult team to “surprise” at this point, but that’s the whole point- we never know what could happen. That’s part of the fun.
If you had one superpower you could have for event day what would it be and why? (Ex. Being invisible/see through things/lift anything?) Super strength and flying for sure! Super strength just because I feel like I’m constantly moving things around and would love to be able to scoop everything up in one go. Flying for two reasons, one so I can get to places a little quicker without snaking through the crowds, but also to give my feet a break.
Any advice on someone thinking about trying an event like yours in the future? Start recruiting restaurants as soon as possible and be prepared to talk numbers and marketing opportunities first thing. Know your expected attendance, how many food items they need to prepare and their expected revenue, but at the same time- keep it short and sweet. For an event this scale, all forms of communication quickly become your lifeline. I let all my vendors have my cell phone number and was able to answer quick questions via text when I was out of the office.
How would you have rated your own event from a scale of 1-10…10 being a Super Bowl level event and 1 being a Fyre Festival bust? Based on my own experience, attendee feedback and vendor feedback- I’d place us at a solid 8. Our team rocked this event and the majority of attendees had a “gouda” time! That being said, we get better and better each year- so there is always opportunity to get even better.
What would you say is the most interesting vibe about your event compared to the other copy cats? Our team has a passion for creating unique, memorable experiences. The most interesting vibe is our attention to the little moments throughout the festival. Attendees had the opportunity to “text to vote” for their favorite sandwich at the event, we had local amateur chefs compete in a head to head competition to see who could cook up the best grilled cheese, we had a full kid zone with face painters, festival games and balloon animals and unique vendor experiences like a shopping boutique inside a bus! While the event is all about the Grilled Cheese, we pay attention to additional ways to engage our attendees and keep them interested at every stop at the event.
Plans for this event in the future? To continue to scale. I would also love to see the competition part of this festival take off. We’ve been toying with it and tweaking it over the past few years, and it is another layer of this festival that gets our chefs and restaurants really excited. They all get super competitive and put out some ridiculous and delicious combinations.
Where do you envision this event in 5 years? I can see this event quickly outgrowing the space we grew into this year- Atlantic Station. In five years, I have no doubts that we will be able to get 40-50+ restaurants onboard and take over an even larger footprint. I don’t see the cheese fandom dying down anytime soon, and I am just excited to continue to find ways to scale this event while incorporating different twists each year.
Thank you Michelle for all your answers and sharing your experience. I am sure our readers will get a few gems out of this recap.
Readers, please let me know if you found this Q&A helpful. Feedback and questions always welcome. If you have an event you want highlighted or would like to see some other questions asked for future events please email firstname.lastname@example.org.