But it was not the thousands of dollars of unsold baked goods (we can freeze some of them).
And it was not the wet grounds (the Tuscaloosa News called it a "mudfest"). The mud was not really that bad, especially if you wore boots. OUR car did not even get stuck.
Nor was it the cold (technically great bakery weather). The weather was crisp and cool, but not freeezing.
It was not even the cost of the tent and permit and sneeze guard and tarps. Or the banner or the cash box or the long extension cords and various other supplies we had to buy for the event and are unlikely to ever use again. Or the packaging that we'll have for the next ten years.
And it was not the hundreds of dollars of pastries we donated to the patron's pavilion. After all, that was technically a "trade-out" for the value of the concession space. I am overlooking the little snafu with the "borrowed" butane and the "Gate Nazi" (which are two whole other stories).
No, what really hurts is my back. And my legs. And my poor tired feet from carting all that "stuff" from the parking lot into the park and out to our tent. And carting all the food we had expected to sell. And then carting it all back to the car on Sunday evening when the festival closed. My choices were to pay my employees to sit in the car for hours waiting "our turn" to enter the grounds and unload, or sherpa the items from the parking lot into the festival.
Then there are the huge black and blue marks I got from dropping one of the tables on my leg.
I don't blame anybody for the financial catastrophe. I gambled on the festival and lost. And I won't be doing that again.
And I certainly can't blame anyone for the physical aches and pains. If you do festivals and catering for a living, you find less painful ways of setting up and breaking down.
Next year we will stick to our knitting and sell from the shop. Leave the festival to the seasoned and professional festival food providers of corn dogs and funnel cakes and curly fries.
So, in the future, if you want fresh croissants, muffins, cookies, and hot chocolate made from ganache (instead of "Swiss Miss"), or banana bread or pumpkin bread, or chicken salad or pimiento cheese, or real spiced hot cider, or Alabama Blues Blend coffee, you'll have to stop by the bakery on your way in or out of the festival. Because you won't find us on-site.