September 13, 2013

American Gothic Lemonade … Me & The Hubby

I think that I write apologies for not writing, more often than I write. I also have a strong suspicion that while I think you would find my life interesting during the times of year when it is more challenging for me to find the time to write … I think you’d find the other, more leisurely 8 months of my year quite boring.

Catch-22 … When I have a lot of interesting things to write about, I don’t have time to write, and when I have time to write, I think the things I’d write about are only of interest to myself. Also, I know now that I’m not a food blogger. I’m a blogger that owns and runs food businesses, amongst other endeavors. I still love reading about food, and food plays prominently in the things I think and write about … but I’ll make a confession. I think that writing down a recipe is tortuous. No, really. I make employees do it, and then double check them … rather than write them out myself. I also still attend TechMunch conferences, even though I’m not a Food Blogger. There is simply too much good information there, packaged for easy assimilation.

I have wonderful and marvelously capable employees, even though my big show is only open for 2 months of the year. They are an intense 2 months. The Texas Renaissance Festival was open for 19 days last year (2012), and we had over 609,000 guests. That is spread over 8 weekends, including Black Friday, and 2 days that combine High School Performance competitions, and field trip days for students.

In my off season, many of my employees work for other vendors who have bakeries and food shops in parks and at shows in which I don’t have an investment. It works out well. I don’t want or need to add to my schedule, even though I’d like to keep these good people employed. These other vendors with whom I share employees have a tendency to make me look really good to my employees. I don’t know exactly what they do to make our common employees feel so put-upon, but I hear stories, and I get great piles of appreciation from my employees during the months we get to work together.

I also have about a 5% turnover rate, which is pretty damned amazing considering that the majority of my workers are nomadic. Apparently my reputation as a boss and the environment I create is such that I still turn away applicants … often. While I’m turning some of them away simply because I don’t have a position available … it is also my responsibility to create a workspace and a team that can crank out high-quality foods in an incredibly high-volume situation. I look for personalities that will suit. TRF gets over 30,000 visitors every day it is open, and I’m staffing and managing the first food shop on the right, once a guest enters the park. I need to maintain an environment where 14 hour days serving thousands of meals is entertaining, challenging, and fun. We have ongoing Earworm Battles, a Twist-Tie Art Gallery, and a squirrel-cage exhaust fan above the oven, entitled the “Smell-O-Vision”, which exhausts onto the sidewalk in front of our shop.

I do a summer show in NY as well. There my husband runs the food shops, and I manage food personnel, hairbraiders and henna artists. My workload is lighter there, because I have to be able to spend the second half of the NY show, opening the TX show. I love living in the Northeast in June, July, and August … but Texas calls to me. In September I work weekdays in Todd Mission, Texas, and weekends in Tuxedo, NY. I know my way around the airport pretty good.

These crazy few months allow us several months where we are free to attend other outdoor events, looking for new ideas, I attend SxSWi, to keep up on innovations in marketing and technology, and this year I’ve been talked into attending the New Media Expo. I like to stay in a consistent path of learning, even if it seems to be completely unrelated to my career. But my career path is all over the place anyway, so who is to say it is unrelated?  I used to design buildings and theme parks. I still edit articles for Festival Prose. I studied Sustainable Agriculture, and my superpower seems to be connecting other people with pertinent ideas. I suppose this blog would be an efficient way to do more of that … if I wrote more often.

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