My family has been spending our summer out at the ballpark – the first baseball games we’ve attended in more than a year. I live pretty close to the Gwinnett Stripers minor-league team, and we decided to celebrate the end of social distancing and sheltering-in-place with partial season tickets.

Crowds are out in force everywhere we go, in fact. You’re undoubtedly seeing the same thing where you live. People don’t need much of an excuse to get out of the house these days, and businesses should be taking as much advantage of that as possible.

Typically, the July 4 holiday was considered the premier grilling event of the summer. This year, I would say that every weekend is a premier grilling event and a perfect opportunity to market steaks, burgers or hot dogs. This summer’s promotions should extend far beyond summer grilling, though. Outdoor festivals and parties are going to be popular events. If any are taking place in your city, considering investing in a food booth, or even hosting your own. Louie’s Finer meats, an award-winning small processor in Cumberland, Wis., is hosting a Bacon Walk/Run this weekend. Not only is it a great community event, but it’s a creative way to gather a crowd, let them work up a big appetite and then give out bacon samples to attendees. If you can’t sponsor a big event like that, you can do something smaller-scale, like arranging for local musicians to play at your meat market on the weekends.

Sports partnerships are a great way to boost name recognition this summer, too. Papa Cantella’s, a family-owned sausage company in the Los Angeles area, is now producing the renowned Dodger Dog, which is probably the most popular hot dog in all of Major League Baseball. It’s quite a coup for a small business to land such a prominent partnership. Locally, the Stripers have a partnership with Kiolbassa Smoked Meats, a San Antonio processor I visited about 6 years ago. If I’m at the park and want something a little fancier than a hot dog or nachos, I can enjoy a jalapeno cheddar sausage from a top-notch regional processor.

Some of these promotional ideas take time to put into motion, so you may have to wait until next year in some instances. But it’s not too late for others, and you have limited weekends before September rolls around. Put your thinking caps on and see how you can reach out to crowds this summer. After a year of staying at home and cooking for themselves, the country is going out and partying, and there are a word of opportunities for promotions and sales.

Sam Gazdziak