The Orange County Seafood Festival And How NOT To Run An Event

Posted: August 12, 2014 in Beer, Drinks, Events, Food, Orange County, Restaurant
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Orange County Seafood Festival returned to Lantern Bay Park in Dana Point this past Saturday afternoon. This free and all-ages event compares with an outdoor fair of sorts, with booths set up around the central area of the park. Visitors could freely enter and browse through all the vendor booths present, which consisted of merchandise, art, services, and of course, food. Free admission comes with the price that visitors had to pay full price for whatever they wanted. Food items ranged from $4 up to over $20 per plate, while the drinks represented an entire ordeal on its own. Intended as a way for the locals to sample the best of seafood from local restaurants, the Orange County Seafood Festival presented a plethora of problems so significant that I cannot heartily recommend anyone attend this event in the future. Read on for a list of the major problems.

As stated above, the Orange County Seafood Festival may have completed its duration unimpeded, but the amount of faults that persisted caused many problems that many visitors appeared to allow to slip by.

  • Parking – Nowhere on the website does it mention where to park. Clicking on the link to the directions simply show a Google Maps image of the venue’s location. Visitors eventually discovered the off-site parking once they reached the venue, then had to drive a mile down the road to the parking lot just to take the shuttle back.
  • No mobile website – Trying to access the website from your phone? The website uses Wix, and many phones do not boast compatibility with Wix.
  • Lack of (sea)food – For an event called a Seafood Festival, one would expect to find seafood everywhere. Sadly, the other vendors outnumbered the food vendors, so this seafood festival turned into a fancy swap meet.
  • Inconsistent shuttle times – This mainly applies to vendors. At the start of the day, the shuttle driver specified that shuttle service would pause at 1pm, then resume service from 4:30 to 10pm. However, the shuttle actually ran 4:30 to 6pm, then took another pause before running 7:30 to 9pm. As the event ended at 7pm, this caused major issues with the vendors trying to leave early before everyone else attempted to leave at the same time.
  • Drink ticket disaster – The drink situation represents the greatest problem of them all, and resulted in hundreds of angry customers. Drinks at this event came in two packages. An all-inclusive package costing $40 functioned similarly to a beer festival, where visitors paid $40 for a wristband and sampler cup, and received unlimited sample pours of beer or wine until the event ended. The second option simply involved $8 individual drink tickets, which appealed to more visitors than the pricier wristband. However, the volunteers failed to mention that the tickets only worked at the Stella Artois booth across from the ticket booth. Hundreds of visitors paid for these drink tickets expecting to receive full pours of beer or wine from the attending breweries or wineries. Imagine the dismay of the visitors after they bought an $8 Stella Artois drink ticket and learned that they could not redeem the ticket at any of the brewery or winery stations.

But hey, at least they had a decent selection of craft beer, right?

As far as the food went, the food booths accounted for roughly a third of the entire festival. As such, all the food booths saw massively long lines all day in an attempt to keep up with demand. In fact, the two food trucks in attendance had left by 3pm because they both ran out of food! Thanks to The Shwack Beach Grill, The Flip Truck, Filomena’s Italian Kitchen, Good Choice Sushi, Choya Japanese Cuisine, and more for keeping me fed throughout the day. Thanks to Hangar 24 for keeping me refreshed with beer for much of this hot afternoon.

After sticking around this event for over six hours, I saw enough problems arise that I would suggest you avoid this event the next time it comes around. Based on my conversations with other vendors, this event has gone unchanged for as many years as they can remember it, indicating that the organizers have no plans to patch any holes in their ship without a compass. Until I can see land, I would steer clear of this festival in the future.

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Comments
  1. Ruth says:

    This seemed to be a poor representation of seafood orange county. This is a little upsetting. If I hear “seafood festival”, that is what I want to see. Seafood! I hope they can fix their issues for future events. From the photos, it looked rather enjoyable and the food looked good.

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