Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Brat Fest Wrap-Up: A Small Victory for the Law of Demand

by Tom Bozzo

This morning, the State Journal reports, "Brat Fest sales don't cut the mustard." Total brat sales of 181,710 were a few percent off last Memorial Day's total, and far short of a 25% increase projected by the organizers.

Organizers effectively raised the $1 price of a brat by discontinuing the practice of bundling small quantities of soft drinks with the brat purchase. Beverages were instead sold in 20-oz. bottles for $1, the upshot being that the just concluded fest raised much more money for its charitable causes than last year's. It may have discouraged a few brat sales on the margin.

Brat Fest also added some attractions to the mix that probably substituted for brat eating to some extent. The Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum (see sidebar link) stand was surely complimentary — if they return for Labor Day, which I'd encourage, I'd certainly visit them for a mustard consultation. At the old Hilldale location, the Chocolate Shoppe's ice cream offerings were the only food services in the mall that weren't hunkered down for a dead weekend; they had a stand at the new fest. Eliminating the information and exertion costs of knowing it was there and walking into the mall may have turned them from a net compliment into a net substitute: the ice cream business was very brisk.

Also cited in the WSJ was the addition of more entertainment options. Indeed, a bunch of people were standing around and not eating while a youth band wrapped up its performance on a second stage for live entertainment. One stage is more than enough for Brat Fest-level entertainment. (And turn down the volume, damnit!)

As for the location, I'd think on a really hot day, the Expo Center's grass would be far preferable to Hilldale's tarmac. The flow of cars into and out of the grounds was smoother, offset by lengthier walks from parking to the food. Otherwise, Change is Bad and I'd suspect a few people were driving by Hilldale, seeing the start of the new condo construction there,and wondering what happened to Brat Fest.

Addendum: Welcome Dartblog readers! Dane 101 has a rundown of bratwurst blogging, including pictures from Gordon Smith at Conglomerate here.
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