The Concessionaire Cohort for Fairs, Festivals, and Expositions (CFFE) is now accepting applications for the 2022 cohort. Created in 2017 by the State Fair of Texas, this cohort is comprised of seven to twelve existing South Dallas businesses who receive instruction in a classroom, mentoring, and hands-on opportunities for growth and exposure to the fairs and festivals industry. Interested participants can learn more and apply today at BigTex.com/CFFE.
This project is a dynamic education series for entrepreneurs created through partnerships by the State Fair of Texas. Fairs, festivals, and expositions are significant contributors to the hospitality and tourism industry. According to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, “[more than] 3,200 fairs are held in North America each year.” For many small business owners in the Southern Sector of Dallas, these events provide an opportunity to generate revenue and grow their small businesses.
“This program was designed as a way to increase the potential for Southern Dallas businesses to succeed in an industry that has so much opportunity – both for the business and for the public,” said Melanie Linnear, State Fair of Texas Vice President of Food Service. “Being able to provide a foundational education series that helps prepare entrepreneurs for large events is just one of many ways the Fair strives to foster development in our home of South Dallas.”
Previous graduates of CFFE have gone on to participate in local and regional events, even including the State Fair of Texas. Kerston Crawford-Thorns of Pearlie’s Southern Kitchen graduated from CFFE in 2018 and participated in the 2019 and 2021 State Fair of Texas. Anthony Bednar of Tony’s Taco Shop graduated from CFFE in 2019 and participated in the 2021 State Fair, along with Fair Park’s Enchant and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
“CFFE provided an opportunity to bridge the gap in the presence of women and people of color in the fair and festivals industry. Representation matters, and this program believes that,” said Kerston Crawford-Thorns, CEO of Pearlie’s Southern Kitchen. “I really appreciated the wealth of knowledge that was offered at no cost. As a small business owner, often times there isn’t a budget for continuous learning which is pivotal to any business success.”
CFFE members work alongside State Fair of Texas concessionaires during the run of the 24-day exposition in the fall, in addition to attending several classes in the summer before the Fair.
“The mentoring and hands-on opportunities [through CFFE] prepared me on how to handle pressure in a fast-pace, high-pressure atmosphere like the State Fair. Since my completion of [the cohort] in 2019…my life and business have not been the same,” said Anthony Bednar, CEO of Tony’s Taco Shop. “At the 2021 food and beverage meeting, I was asked to stand and was introduced as a new vendor. I have never felt so welcome. I’m so proud to be a part of the family at the State Fair”
A schedule of important dates is available on our website. Applications for the 2022 cohort are due by 5:00 p.m. on April 15, 2022.
Join us at the 2022 State Fair of Texas, running Friday, September 30 through Sunday, October 23, 2022, in historic Fair Park.