This was the first year of the Philadelphia Cheesesteak Festival and they definitely have to make some improvements before next year. I purchased the “Wit” ticket including entry with 10 samples, and a shirt. The event was posted to begin at 11 am, but they didn’t start letting anyone inside the venue until about 11:15-11:20. Parking opened at 10 am and cost $20.
The lines outside the stadium were also not clearly marked so many entrants did not know which line to stand in according to the specific ticket they purchased. The shirt line was in the front and quickly became slammed with a huge line, but thankfully we were told we could pick up our shirts until 5pm so we chose to collect them after eating. Purchasing sample vouchers day of the event cost $10 for 5 (same valuation as purchasing them with your ticket). The more expensive deal was $6 water and soda or beer $9-11.
Arriving to the event early and going straight for the food was key, there were 50 vendors set up between tents and food trucks. Having vendors like Pat’s and Tony Lukes gave a lot of credibility to the event. I don’t think I could’ve eaten more than 10 samples even though they were about a 1-1.5 inch slice (2 bites). Many vendors served more than one option and there was also some creativity in your options (eggrolls, dumplings, nachos, quesadilla, burrito) as well as chicken cheesesteaks (buffalo, jerk seasoned) and even some vegan cheesesteaks! The carnival games and live band really added to the atmosphere as well as the display of the World’s Largest Cheesesteak at 425 ft and a cheesesteak eating competition!
Unfortunately with the crowds of people and so many vendors in a small space by 12:45pm it was almost impossible to walk around or even know which line was snaked around to which table. I heard from others who went to the event later in the day that they left the event frustrated with unused vouchers because of the crowds, long lines, and vendors running out of food at 3:30 (event officially ended at 5pm).