Arts and Culture

Forecastle 2017 is officially over. The stages are being taken down. The decorations are being put up in storage. And within a few days, Louisville’s Waterfront Park will go back to normal.

But for many of the food vendors, as soon as the music stopped, they were packing up to head to another festival.

Ashley Hartl is one of these vendors.

Hartl used to only work for Corn Dog Inc. in the summers. She was a school teacher in Chattanooga and says she would use the summer to travel around, get a sun tan, and prep for yet another long school year.

“And after a few years of being in the schools, I thought this was a lot more fun and I decided to go full-time here,” Hartl said.

So what does full-time look like for a festival food vendor?

Well, according to Hartl, the season really starts in February, when you put in applications for different events, get your equipment checked and establish inventory.

“And around March, we start traveling to the different shows,” Hartl said. “There’s some, like Forecastle, that we come to every year, and then sometimes we go to new shows that have never happened before, or a new show we had never been to before.”

She says most vendors have set-up down to a science. It took Corn Dog Inc. about six hours to get Forecastle-ready.

The entire festival circuit lasts until about November.

Then Hartl says through the holidays, some staff pick up seasonal work at places like coffee shops, resorts or even Costco. That’s part of this line of work, she says — being flexible.

For example, Corn Dog Inc. was invited last-minute to a festival in Montana that begins Tuesday. So, after Hartl stops by her home in Chattanooga to do a little laundry, she’ll pick up again and spend the next few days making the 30-hour trek out west.

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.