ROCHESTER, Minn. — Increases in COVID-19 infection rates have caused FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace planners to cancel the planned in-person shopping portion of the event for this year. The wide range of local products will still be available to browse and purchase online until Nov. 29, for curbside pick up on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020 at Graham Park in Rochester. Learn more and shop at local-feast.org.
The cancellation of many in-person marketing events, including store demos/sampling and industry tradeshows such as FEAST!, has made new product introduction more difficult for food entrepreneurs. E-commerce is one tool to overcome that challenge. Minnesota Department of Agriculture New Markets Program Manager, Brian Erickson, said, “While we’ll miss the in-person shopping event, the Online Marketplace will allow a new way for shoppers in the Rochester area to gather fun, locally-made food gifts.” MDA is promoting a new program that offsets e-commerce costs for Minnesota farms and small food makers, through the end of the year.
Josey Chu, owner of Madame Chu sauces (Madison, Wisc.) said, “The organizers have made a safe and correct decision to hold it online, because e-commerce is a great opportunity for small businesses to still engage with customers. FEAST! organizers were creative and will be doing video interviews with us so we can talk about how to use our products, which helps make up for the conversations we’d usually have with customers at the in-person event.”
FEAST! organizers are looking to attract the 1,000-plus attendees that typically attend the festival, in part by offering special contests on their social channels. For example, find the business from a limerick-based clue for a chance at a $10 coupon.
Deeann Lufkin, co-owner of CannonBelles Cheese (Cannon Falls, Minn.) and winner of the FEAST! 2019 People’s Choice Award said, “I think it’s important to still have this online so we can keep in touch with our customers who come to FEAST!, because we don’t have other ways to see them right now. To prepare for the curbside pick-up, we’ll be packing orders for specific people, so we still have a personal connection with our customers. It’s a great ‘shop small’ option for your own personal holidays, or even as a ‘ding-dong-ditch’ gift for your neighbors!”
FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace is co-hosted by non-profit organizations, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and Renewing the Countryside, and sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. For more, visit www.local-feast.org. Follow @localfeastnetwork on Facebook, @Local_Feast on Twitter, localfeast on Instagram, and use #localFEAST to join the conversation.
— Renewing the Countryside
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