Two-day food and music fest The Great GoogaMooga did not go off without a hitch. As noted earlier, the vendors ran out of food on Saturday afternoon, and there were glitches with the cashless beer and wine payment program. On Sunday, the service was smoother and more efficient, but some of the guests who paid for the premium "ExtraMooga" experience complained that the food offerings were not worthy of the $250 price tag. This afternoon, Eater talked to organizer and Superfly co-founder Rick Farman about what worked and what didn't.
What went wrong with the Great GoogaMooga? Rick Farman, Superfly co-founder: Saturday, we obviously had a lot of problems with various areas of the event. We were very aware of that. We were very concerned about it, and we wanted people to have great fun and really enjoy an amazing experience. We work with people that are passionate about food, and we're all big foodies. We're like a family-type business, and we care about everything we do. That being said, we learned a lot this weekend in terms of how to do something like this.
Like with any business, you're trying to break some ground, and you're going to make some mistakes. You can plan for things, and you can try to do the best you can. But it's the dynamic nature of a festival... until you try certain things, you won't really know exactly what needs to be done to make everything work properly. I really wish we had done a better job making Saturday a better experience. I am proud that our team worked so hard to correct a lot of those mistakes. It produced a much better event on Sunday.
Can you elaborate on what exactly went wrong? It's broken down into a few things. First and foremost, it was how we dealt with certain line management. We made sure that on Sunday, guests were ID'd and wrist-banded on the way in. We tried a cashless card system that we were using for our beer and wine pavilions. There was a technical problem with it, and those that were accepting cash really got backed up. So on Sunday, we went straight to cash, and that worked a lot better. In the future, we're going to have to look at what will work better. Hopefully we'll be able to make it up to the people that had a bad experience. We look forward to making it a better event, and we are the kind of organization that's good at adapting.
What went right? I think we had an amazing collection of purveyors, wine makers, brewers, restaurants, and chefs who all really embraced what we were trying to build there. I think that they all really enjoyed the atmosphere that we created, and the great interaction with one and other. A lot of people had a good time this weekend. It's in many ways kind of what we envisioned, from a conceptual standpoint, and a lot of that stuff ended up coming together. I think there's a community that exists here as well. It's real, what's going on in the food community. I can't believe that all of these restaurants were in one place.
A lot of people who paid for the ExtraMooga experience were disappointed by the food options. Will you reimburse those tickets if they didn't get enough food? We're talking about what we're going to do. We want everyone to feel like they got the full value of what they paid for. It's extremely important for us to make sure that they feel that they were treated fairly. We're in this business for the long haul.
Did you ever worry that there were not enough vendors to feed everyone? Sure, that's something that we'll look at. No doubt. But overall, we wonder, "Can we enable the vendors to produce at a faster rate, and can they have their delivery system be improved." We took a lot of time to work with the vendors, figuring out what the operations were going to be and what the menu items were going to be. And we thought we were going to be able to produce at high volume. And so, we worked really hard on Saturday, and a lot of people in the community came together to do something. So, I think there's some growing pains here for everybody.
Why didn't you get bigger musical acts? We don't really look at this like a music festival. The lineup that we had was really strong for a food festival. The key thing here is that we don't look at GoogaMooga as a music festival. We look at it as a culinary event with purveyors and wine makers. So at our other festivals, the music is front and center, and we always stive to provide a high quality music experience. I think that a lot of people were very happy with the music lineup.
Are you going to do The Great GoogaMooga next year?
We have every intention of doing it next year.
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