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I know this is coming late but, better late then never! I've done the downtown Bayou show several times, with essentially rain conditions on all occasions thus having the effect of cutting down on the crowds and subsequently the sales. Many booths were located in the "swamps" were nary a fair goer would go. I've been fortunate enough not to be located there. That being said, I thought I'd give the spring Memorial Park show a try. I haven't been invited pre-150 additions to the show but did get invited this time, did adding 150 more booths help my chances or was my work just that good? Who knows!

Show Hours and Dates: Bayou City Art Festival, Memorial Park, Houston, TX. Fri March 27, 12-6, . Sat, Sun 28th & 29 10- 6.

Logistics:

The show is set up in Memorial Park along two major loops. They are referred to as "inner loop" or "outer loop" whatever that means! I walked the park and got confused as to where I was a few times so I could imagine that it would be a daunting task to art patrons as well. There were supposed to be two artist hospitality sites, I only found one. The children's creative zone was placed in the furthest reaches of the park so I'm sure it was a schlep for the hartiest of parents with the best behaved young'ns (not onions). Food trucks were located in the middle zone. I tired to bush wack through the forest to take a short cut to artist hospitality but, as it had rained a lot before the show, the short cut turned into a slog through the mire of mud and undergrowth, better take the long way next time!

Amenities:

Lots of water,  snacks and volunteer booth sitters for the occasional break. I thought I read something about an artist breakfast once upon a time, no such thing here. I did manage to snag a snack or two.

Parking, oh boy! There was parking to the west of the event which was no less than a 1/4 mile hike out. If you got there later I'm sure it was considerably more. Their answer to the parking situation: "Take your hotel shuttle if you can" my hotel did not have a shuttle nor would I have taken it anyway. That was a big no-no, they were not prepared for that additional 150 vehicles that needed to park somewhere!

Storage, Booth Space, Load-In/Out:

Booths are a standard 10 x 10. Space behind tents for storage varied as to your location. In some places there was a precipitous drop off behind the tents, in others there was ample storage and still in others there was a drop with some storage space. Tip: Good idea to keep your boxes, etc. in back of the tent, if you can, for quicker pack-up!

Load out, that's another story. They were only allowing artists to come in through the main gate, stupid! There was another gate on the north side of the park that could have been utilized to get people out faster! My booth was nearby so I snuck in, some artists were dolling out from there as well. As things would have it, someone on that loop drove their van off the steep edge of the road so they blocked others from getting by. I'm sure they received a lot of flack for that! I just turned around and went out the way I came in. Necessity is the Mothers of Invention!

Demographics/Buying Trends:

This was a slow show for me and others. I was hoping to do at least as-well-as or better then the downtown shows I had participated in. Not so. Although the show opened at 10 on Sat and Sun and, although I was relatively close to the opening gates, I didn't see a single patron till well after 10:30, remember the schlep? Other artists had posted photos at 2 pm and there was nary a patron to be seen by their booth! They must have been on that "outer loop" thing.

Not everyone did poorly, the artist/painter next to me made several big scores with her unusually large pieces at $6900 and $4500 each. The metal forger (as in fabrication not imitation) next to me also did relatively well with his pieces.

Quality/Range of Art:

This was a very tight show in terms of quality. Maybe a few booths were not up to the same level as the rest but those were the exceptions. The quality of art at this show was pretty consistent. I hope it stays that way!

Food:

Lots of high priced variety; the usual "fair" food and some nicer food trucks. It seems to be a newer thing that these gourmet food trucks are at the shows now. They offer a much nicer selection then the usual gyro or foot long corn dog. Drinks were overpriced as well for the captive audience.

Reflections:

This was a first time show for me and although it didn't go so well this year I'd still consider doing it again just to see if it may have been an off year or something. It is a nice validation of ones work to be selected for this show as the quality is so good.

I heard that there was a long line waiting to get in and pay their overpriced gate fee which discouraged some to leave. About that overpriced gate fee. I remember being near the gates to the downtown show on one of those rain soaked days. A group of patrons came up and asked what the admission was. They were told it was $15 per person, their response, "forget it" and they walked off. This was the year after the gate was $12. Wanna kill a show? They are doing their best to make sure of it. Let's see, they were undermanned at the gate so their were long lines, patrons had to pay for the shuttle and parking? C'mon really!

Given that this show was in a LARGE park, there were drink concessions strategically placed all around as-well-as porta potties (that, by the way, were NOT cleaned out each night, yuk!) I had to call artist relations and let them know of the situation, they "logged" it and did come by later to replenish supplies. Back to that BIG park, they should have had more shaded places with chairs for patrons to rest. No kidding, I saw people come in first thing in the morning and not be leaving till well into the afternoon, it was a BIG park. There was also a large section (on the back 40?) that had no booths so people had to traverse a large section just to get back to the rest of the show, couldn't they have spread out some of the booths to make for more ease of walking around the show? I hope they don't decide that another 150 artists could fill that space! Isn't that how illogic seems to work!

Okay, now for the Dave Piper star rating! Caveat Emptor! I'd give this show ✩✩✩ out of 5 and that is because of the quality of the art and not the quality of the management (although the artist "hotline" did work). If I'm not mistaken there was a new group of managers for this show, did they not talk to  the old management as far as running this show is concerned? They have a lot to learn logistically for running a show this large! My dealings with one of the people suggested she knew what was going on but she wasn't in charge! As far as the buying goes, I'd give it half ✩. This was the fourth show I had done this year, the first three were stinkers and Bayou was not so great either!

Views: 504

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on May 11, 2015 at 10:20pm

Thanks for the review Brian.  Too bad things seemed so wet. 

I have paid $5 to get into a show.  However, I just can't imagine paying $15.  I think I would turn around and leave, too.  Now, if they charged $15 and gave people a $15 voucher to use in a booth, that might be different.  The show would get $15 if you didn't buy anything.  If you did buy something, most likely the patron would end up spending more because they would put that voucher toward something.  I actually think that would encourage some spending at the shows.

Did you sales ever pick up?

Comment by JEFF LEEDY on May 12, 2015 at 4:46pm

did adding 150 more booths help my chances or was my work just that good? Who knows!

I have so many thoughts about this show, not sure where to start. The show producers bounced a great show coordinator a few years ago and it has not been as good since. Adding 150 artists to a show of 300 when no more than 30,000 attendees show up makes no commercial sense to the artists. It just makes the pie pieces smaller for everyone. And of the 30,000 attendees, not everyone pays the high gate and many are teens. Keep the dogs, drop the teens.

The inner loop is the best location and the outer loop makes for a very tired attendee indeed.

They can't figure out how to get more of the5,000,000 Houston residents to come because parking is nil and bus transit deters the PWMs*.

The show producers decided to add 150 artists because they were losing $$$ due to high costs. Stop paying the execs and things get better! I know Dave Piper quite well and he is dead on with his rating. The art is top notch, too many artists, too few attendees and too out of touch with artist realities. Go Dave.  Jeff Leedy

I was glad I canceled all my TX shows this year. I would have lost money.

* people with money

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