Today and tomorrow is the annual Bismarck Street Fair and I am thrilled. It’s block after block of food and crafts and vendors and of course, Andean pan flute musicians. Last year was the first time I really looked forward to the event. In the past, working at a bakery downtown with a booth in front of our store, the Street Fair was much less fun.
The first year we participated was ridiculously hot, and we had our refrigerated pastry case in our booth. It could barely keep things cool, and so we fretted over our eclairs and creme brulees and chocolate mousse. I boxed up hundreds and hundreds of my red velvet, chocolate, vanilla, and lemon cupcakes. It watched people take them out of the box and throw the packaging right in front of the booth and I realized that the next year, there would be no boxes.
The next year, after a slight change in management, we hit the jackpot. No refrigerated foods, no fussy packaging. Scones, cookies, bars, cupcakes, and simple confections on a stick. The weeks leading up to the event were a flurry of massive baking, wrapping, and preparing. It was unreal how much food we baked. The scones were not made ahead of time; they were made early each morning of the street fair so that they’d be fresh.
And, because we actually had a bizarre cold snap that included sleet/snow at the end of the last day, I learned something interesting: people are very keen on buying fresh baked goods when it is cold. The vendor across the street was originally going to sell Sno Cones, but he wisely shifted gears and offered hot chocolate. Because he was getting his water from the bakery, we had free hot chocolate throughout the day. Splendid!
The next year was also bizarrely cold. Same profitability.
The night before the Street Fair, we’d rearrange the shop with production in mind. I’d lay out hundreds of the jumbo cupcakes I’d baked during the evenings the previous weeks, and frost them so they’d be ready to go the next day. People walking by on the street would look inside and tap on the plate glass window, even though we were closed, motioning that they wanted one.
Nope. This is for the Street Fair!
By the time I was finished making frosting and piping it onto the cupcakes, my hands were numb and I was sure I’d never want another cupcake again.
Anna also made beautiful crusty French bread. So delicious!
People would line up and the cash register would ring almost constantly. Generally, people were decent, though there were periodic smart remarks about the price of things.
“$3 for a cupcake! That’s ridiculous! I could make that myself!”
“Go ahead and do that ma’am. It’ll cost you more than three dollars and some time and effort to make a batch.”
“Could I get it for $2?”
“Nope. Priced as marked. Same as you’d pay in our bakery any other day.”
“Those scones look like rocks.”
We sold out of almost everything the last two years we did Street Fair. On cupcakes alone, I managed to make a few thousand dollars, which, after an exhausting two weeks capped by two long-haul days of frantic effort, made it worth it.
Nevertheless, I’m thrilled to be able to walk around and buy someone else’s food today. I’ve gone from dreading the arrival of September (“oh no…Street Fair…”) to looking forward to it!