Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thoughts: Creating Community at Food Events

    The primary reason that Steamwhistle's Craft Beer festivals are so successful in my mind is that the festival both respects and creates a sense of community. This event feels more like a group of like-minded individuals drinking together in a backyard than a traditional beer festival filled with drunken strangers. The relaxed feeling of community that results is the consequence (intended or not) of several decisions made by the organizers.
    The festival is not solely economically motivated as you can return excess tokens, buy them in various amounts, and use the summer tokens at the winter event. This creates an environment where the customers are participants in the event in rather than walking dollar signs. As an individual, feeling like a participant in an event creates a sense of ownership over that event – which in turn creates a sense of community.
      The event is small with 'true' craft beer and independent food trucks in attendance. (The semantics of what is a 'true' craft beer to be debated at a later time.) This helps to create a sense of community between the vendors as mutual respect, friendship and admiration are evident between the various craft beer companies. When vendors respect and admire each other capitalist competition is not the predominant emotion available to individuals. This changes the interaction between vendor and consumer from one dominated by aggression to one dominated by passion. Positive passion filled interactions create community.
    The ways in which community is respected and created at this particular beer festival can be extrapolated to other food communities. Other food communities, such as farmers markets, are frequent sites of positive passion filled interactions but seem to lack the notion that customers are participants rather than solely economic exchanges. Large food exhibitions lack the focus on immediate economic gain and also lack the positive passion interactions and consequently create no sense of community.

What do you think of my expose on community within Steamwhistle's Craft Beer Festival?
How do your favorite food events create community?

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