Googa Mooga

I could start with the name.  There isn't a person that I know who wondered how could you call a festival Googa Mooga?  Also, nobody ever gets it right.  Mooga googa, or that googa thing or is it mooga mooga.  Anyway, enough on that name. This event was food and drink festival.  Think of a musical festival such as Bonaroo but instead food and wine are the primary focus.  Good idea if you can pull it off. 

The event was put on in Prospect Park.  They couldn't have been luckier weather-wise.  It was sunny, 77 and not a cloud in the sky which is probably why people stayed, hung out and there weren't any uprisings. 

The festival was divided into two sections.  The "free" area but you had to get a ticket to get in there which means they knew exactly how many people were attending.  Then there was the "extra mooga" side which cost $250 per ticket per day.  Yes, if you wanted to attend both days (saturday and sunday)it would be $500.  

In the "free" area there was a band shell and then food vendors galore including a beer and wine tasting pavilion and a coffee experience.  The place was packed and the lines for food could go anywhere from an hour or to an hour and a half.  The event lasted until 8pm and by 5pm most of the vendors had run out of food.  There were also a few bands playing at the end of the evening.  It was a beautiful day so my guess is most people got there, decided what the hell, here I am with my friends hanging, enjoying the weather, inside a park and I will just stand in this ridiculous line and buy some food…not so true on the other side.

In the "extra mooga" area there was food events over the course of the day including panels, some DJ's, music at night and food and drinks were free as part of your ticket price.  Unami burger had people waiting in line for over an hour plus at 2pm and they ran out of food at 330.  Not pretty for the people who had stood in line for the two bite burger. 

At Tertulia, where the line was also long but only lasted about 15 minutes, there was one paella pan with a woman literally using a tablespoon to scoop out some rice for your plate where you got 2 tablespoons of paella.

Colicchio & friends gave out a piece of meat with some corn.  They all treated it like a food tasting event which happen all over the city during the year for non-profit organizations but when you pay $250 to go to this event where not a dime is going to a non-profit organization, it isn't okay.  People were hungry and pissed.

Back at the boat house, the restaurant of the moment would bring out plates of food and people would swarm them and in seconds the food would be gone.  It was a tad barbaric.

Inside the Blue Ribbon fried chicken event there wasn't even a regulated line but a swarm of people attempting to shove each others way in to get a piece of fried chicken.

Music festivals work because you put a band up on a stage and 1000 people can circle around.  There is food to get but it isn't the highlight.  People paid $250 a piece to stand in line for a small tidbit of food if they had not run out.  The people who ran this event knew exactly how many people were coming each day because they the sold tickets.  The event was a shit show, to put it bluntly.   It was poorly produced and operated.  Each food vendor should have been told to prepare for the amount of people that were coming and put at least 10 people behind the booths just to serve and another 20 to cook.  They each had just a handful at best.  Jazzfest moves the people through because they have at least 20+ people working at each food vendor. 

For the people inside the "paid" area there should have been buckets of water bottles around.  There weren't even garbage people.  There were piles of empty plates on the picnic tables.  The lines for drinks were ridiculously long too.  Even when you left the festival, taking the Q back into the city took forever. Did anybody have a conversation with the transportation people of NYC and mention that they should not run the trains like a weekend schedule because of the throng of people coming to the festival?  BTW the cell service out there was terrible too.  The operators could have fixed that easily but alas, did not.  Maybe they were saving themselves for the nasty tweeting that would have gone on. 

Beautiful setting, good idea but beyond poorly executed.  I bought tickets for the whole family and my kids bolted after they got their unami burger.  I can't believe that I paid $250 a head for this.  A complete rip-off.  I am not the only person out there yesterday who wanted their money back.  The experience, considering the food amount, was worth about $50 at best.

Can't tell you about the other side but there is nothing fun about standing in line for an hour or more for food that you can get around the city.  It would have been more fun to do a walking tour of all these restaurants or even for $250 a head we could have rented a bus and gone door to door.  Lesson learned, I would have a hard time imaging that they are going to get people out there for year 2 particularly for the "extra mooga". . 

BTW, we left the show starving.  Went back to the city and sat down for dinner at Barbuto where they are always so obnoxious about getting a table.  Empty tables but it will be an hour wait.  Really?  Can you call me on my cell when the table becomes available?  Answer: no, but you can take a card and call us.  Funny enough, less than 5 minutes later we were sitting because they decided to fill the empty tables.  Seriously?  I will say the food is always good there these days and it wasn't a year ago. Does it make up for the snooty attitude when you walk in the door….questionable. 

Here are a few quotes I found this morning on line about Googa Mooga.  Pretty much confirms what I wrote.

» OrangeCrusher • Sat May 19, 2012 08:55 PM
They are refunding the VIP money as we speak.

Ran out of beer, ran out of food.

What a fucking shit show.

jtr210 • Sat May 19, 2012 08:58 PM
Super lame. They knew exactly how many people would be there.
This is from the Gurgling Cod who figured it out and wasn't even there just based on math.  Can the operators add?
Googa Mooga Math #googamooga

Via FOC The Lime Spider, some calculations W/R/T Googa Mooga: 

The organizers say 40,000 per day. Let's agree, generously, that peak will be 30,000. 

I think 35% will be at the concerts, and not on line for food at any given time, but to be polite, let's say 50% to make them feel like people came for the music. Also because it makes the math easier: 15,000 on line for food. 

75 vendors. 2 lines per vendor. 150 lines. 100 people per line. 

Cash transactions. Optimistically, 60 transactions per hour. That means each line will run about an hour and a half, for tasting portions or slightly larger. Even if there are twice as many lines, or half as many people, you're still looking at 45 minute waits.

Street thinkers call it Tight Math. For the sake of the people who are going, I hope these calculations (by someone w/ food festival experience) are off base. The Cod is Pro Prospect Park — despite the restrictions on fishing. The Cod is a fan of many of the food vendors. Based on past experiences, not sure that putting all of these purveyors in the same place will lead to a better time than having them scattered around NYC.

All and all, a shit show. 


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