Now that summer is in full swing, arts festivals are popping up everywhere. Locals artisans, like myself, that spend all year creating lucious works of art are showing off their wares at these festivals. What goes on behind the scenes to bring these booths to life? Well I'm going to share that with you!
You probably didn't know that to get accepted into some of the festivals, artisans must apply months in advance, sometimes the year before. Some of the shows are juried, which means the artisan must provide photos of their work plus descriptions. A jury panel examines the photos and the application, then decides if that artisan fits into the constraints of their festival. Most require that the work is completely handmade by the artisan, nothing bought and re-sold.
Along with festival applications there are fees, one to reserve the booth space and, for juried shows, another for the jurying fee which is non-refundable.
Once accepted, the day and morning before the show is a flurry of activity. Artists pack their cars and trailers, and travel to the festival. Some artists come from a great distance.
After the artist gets their booth assignment, they unpack their vehicles, tents go up, and the displays are built. This takes hours, some prefer to do this the night before - this is a lot of work!
During the open hours of the show, the artist must be on hand at all times. When I do a show I usually hardly eat. How embarrassing to try to talk to a customer with a mouthfull! I stand most of the day because I want to engage with everyone that comes into my booth. I want people to understand my process and know exactly what my product is. Plus, I feel that when I'm sitting, someone may think I'm not interested in engaging. Not so! I love to talk about how I make my pieces. I love the reactions I get from people, they always make me feel like they're amazed. I love that!
If a festival is one day, after all the festival-goers are gone, product and displays are re-packed, tents are taken down, cars are packed, and away we go.
If a festival is multiple days, tents are zipped up until the next morning.
Many more hours than the festival is open goes into setting up a booth for all to enjoy. Days can be long and exhausting, the weather can be rainy (UGH) or it can be oven hot. Either way these die hard artists are there because their passion drives them.
When you attend a fair or festival, keep in mind the time each artist puts into their work and their booth. Sometimes if the weather is not pleasant artists may not sell much and leave with a financial loss, or sometimes (hopefully more than not), artists will do well and sell their work. Each show is a risk. I have done shows where I come to the same one every year, some years are great, others are a loss. You never know so you just put your best self out there.
Hope to see you at a show, check my Upcoming Shows page to see where I might be hanging out! Happy Summer!