Commodity Fest

Here at UNCW, you are more than likely going to hear someone rave about the upcoming annual Beer & Wine Festival in October. The tickets range from $40- $75. This is a relatively decent price for college students to pay to drink unlimited beer and wine, but more often times than not festivals are expensive…think Bonnaroo or Firefly. With bills, student loans and other debt it can be hard for students to afford the ‘extras.’ Because of this, some students look for more affordable ways to attend festivals. Students can volunteer and attend the festivals for free admission. They can help sell artist CD’s, setting up tents, chairs and other items, or even being a door monitor for the event making sure all patrons are wearing the correct wristband. If you aren’t interested in being a volunteer, you can always turn to the internet to help you find cheaper tickets.


Groupon is a deal-of-the-day coupon service that has become widely popular in today’s consumer market. Groupon keeps its brand relevant by updating its electronic coupon offers every 24 hours, providing customers with recommendations for nearby businesses in addition to a 40 % to 60% discount upon purchasing the service.  As many internet based start-ups like Scoutmob and LivingSocial prove, marketing services online allows a much wider potential consumer base to become more aware of what commodities are out there and more likely to invest in them. Groupon typically is associated with promoting restaurants and stores, but consumers can also turn to Groupon to get access to their festival of choice. Groupon offers discounted entry into a wide variety of festivals from culinary to cultural or holiday themed fests.

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Groupon contributes to the commodification of festivals by providing a means of access for people outside of the culture and community, and more affordable prices for everyone. Festivals are becoming more of a commodity than a cultural event. For example, St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church in Castle Hayne, NC holds an annual Polish Festival in November. On their website, they claim to be “authentically” Polish, featuring food, beer and wine, dancers and music, and traditional Polish activities. However, the festival loses its cultural authenticity by harnessing Polish culture and turning it into the opportunity to create a consumer experience with the selling of cultural foods, activities and entertainment. Commodifying festivals can even instigate business partnerships such as the Annual Polish Festival teaming up with Front Street Brewery to make a special Polish beer made for the occasion. Commodities are goods that are bought and sold in a social system and a commodity culture is when those goods are central to cultural meaning. From a small farming community celebrating the harvest to Bonnaroo, festival’s are a way to promote cultural goods.

polish fest

  • Aki Suzuki, Alexis Trimnal, Carey Poniewaz, Carey Shetterley, and June Wilkinson