"I felt at £1.90 for a sausage roll the catering staff should have been wearing masks"
Comments like this are common after every exhibition and are the bane of many managers lives.Hundreds of hours work put in to organising a show, booking layouts and trade, setting out the hall, negotiating advertising and dozens of other jobs and what do the punters notice?
Something that the poor manager probably has almost no control over.
Unless your show is very small, the chances are that simply catering for a couple of thousand people is beyond the abilities of the organising club. There's a (freshly cleaned) bucket load of food safety issues to consider (as daytime telly says in every add break - eaten something that disagreed with you, SUE!), and more and more people who are allergic to something. Nowadays you really need to be a professional to walk the tightrope of feeding little Johnny now he can't eat tomatoes when there is a Y in the month.
Even if you do fancy taking his on, many venues have sold the catering concession and won't let you do it anyway. From their point of view, it makes sense. Very few hirers will want to do it themselves and it's a good way to earn some money. The caterers then have a contract that says no-one gets to sell food apart from them. At least this stops them having to sort out any mess left by amateur cooks using the supplied kitchen.
All of which leaves the organiser stuck. If you've never dealt with these people before, you might think that the club can just walk in and demand a level of service to suit but that doesn't work either. These people are professionals and quite rightly don't appreciate being told how to do their jobs from someone whose culinary expertise runs to beans on toast and who is very likely to have any idea how different it is to try and feed hundreds of people who all want to eat within a two hour window during the day, but expect paid staff to be provided the whole time even when there aren't any customers.
Mind you, the customers can be at fault. I often wonder about railway modellers. Many seem to live in a bubble and never experience anything outside the limited boundaries of our hobby. Just look at the numbers oblivious to the price of a cinema or footballs tickets or admittance to any other type of show. Very few events will let you spend 6 or 7 hours in the hall for less than a tenner and provide you with exhibits to look at that cost money. Many events are nearly pure trade so every single person has paid to come in the door, but the prices are still higher than those for a model rail show.
Likewise, prices are measured against supermarkets rather than buying food in a cafe or pub. A good example was York this year. As always, people moaned about the cost of the meals but my experience was that they were about a quid a portion above eating in a Weatherspoons pub - about as cheap as you get for food served on a plate ready to eat. Quality, at least for lasagna, was well above par too.
I used to work with someone in a theatre who had a hobby horse moan about the price of a coke at our bar. He couldn't understand why it was more expensive than the cheapo version he could buy in Tesco. This was despite the extra cost being taken up with the glass, service, heating, lighting, cleaning up after and everything else that came with the bar cola. It was proper Coke too, not nasty own-brand stuff. He enjoyed his model railways...
It fascinates me that in a hobby where people will happily pay a tenner or more for someone to crush a bit of coal and stick it in a loco tender, one of the simplest improvements you can make to a RTR model, they are so surprised that food costs more than you can buy it in bulk from the sort of discount supermarket that makes Lidl look classy.
I enjoy my grub at shows. You can tell from all the mentions of cake on this blog. Yes, I enjoy a home made cake but realise that this isn't always possible. If it is, the larger meals are often disappointing as these are so much harder to do.
If you insist on buying the cheapest thing on the menu, you will pay a disproportionately higher price. In this case, Greggs would sell you the same food for £1.20 less, but you won't get a plate. Personally, I think you should spend £1.60 more and enjoy the delicious sausage bap I had with most of a pig in a bun. Kept me going all day.