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Loring Park is a darned nice place for an art fair.

This show used to be on the same weekend as Uptown Art Fair but it's been moved to allow customers to give Loring all of their attention. The demographics here are pretty favorable, as locals live in condos and apartments near downtown Mpls. So they certainly have walls but obviously few will have yards. Keep that in mind if you sell wind chimes or twirly things for the garden. If you have all price points covered and a good selection of truly different, high quality art, then you have a shot at doing well here. 

I felt the crowds were pretty good; there seemed to be people coming past the booth 5-10 at a time pretty much all day, both days. I suspect there were well over 10,000 people attending, maybe as much as 20,000. Watching people stroll by you got the impression that very few are hurting for money, although it's not a super-high-dollar neighborhood. Just a good solid economic base and people with midwestern values who want something high quality and unique for their money. The quality of the work was quite good here so bring your A-game as an artist.

There are artists here who've done Loring forever. The kind woman next to me had unique jewelry and it was old home week for her; she was repeatedly greeted by old friends and long-standing customers. So there's really something to be said for the beautiful park location, shade trees, ample booth space and easygoing atmosphere. Some artists come back year after year. Just a really nice vibe to the place. Volunteers were on hand to make sure you had plenty of water. There was a light breakfast in the morning as well, and I think an evening thing which I didn't attend. 

I sold two large canvases on day one and some small prints so I was off to a good start, but my Sunday was really weak. Ended up not bad overall, thanks to those two large pieces. Those sales prove to me that it's certainly possible for this local clientele to buy higher-ticket items on a whim. It wasn't happening left and right all around me, but it did happen. The  highly accomplished watercolor artist to one side of me had a decent show, not great, all on the strength of $45 Giclees. A potter with really unique work a few booths down said he was selling; another photographer friend had a pretty good show as well. Loring is known as a good show and what I heard sort of bears this out. However, I know of two artists, both photographers, whose work didn't resonate for whatever reason. So it's not a slam-dunk here. You can certainly have a sub-$500 show if your art is not unique or noteworthy. 

Load-in was easy although the path is a little snug in spots, but if everyone is polite it works out fine. (The path is literally that..a walking/jogging trail that you'll drive on to get to your booth.) Load-out is really easy if you wait a bit and let those in a hurry bug out. There is a TON of space behind your booth in most spots and an extra foot built in on each side. I was very happy with that layout. 

I had a potential customer show up with a photo of the room she needed a large print for, and all she needed was dimensions. That conversation happened twice, so it's clear that people there are perfectly willing to buy good art for their homes or businesses. The crowd had a nice vibe to it for what that's worth. It's meaningless unless it translates to sales. Those who did the best had affordable stuff...not the $15-20 range that plagues many shows, but $25-100 seemed pretty easy for the crowd to digest all weekend along. If you have inventory, that can add up nicely. 

I'll do it again next year if they'll have me, but I'm tweaking my print bins and adding more Mpls-specific images. I'm local so that's not too hard. But again, you gotta be different in some way. When people just stand there and grin as they look around, you know you've got their attention. 

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Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on August 2, 2017 at 1:42pm
This has always been a Saturday show no matter what. I was hoping for a change but did not happen. Since the move to this weekend the show has gone from avg of 2k to 550 for this year. It may work as preview to Uptown but 3 to 5 people walking away said the work is very good but i want to compare what is at Uptown.
Comment by Lawrence M. Sawyer on August 2, 2017 at 3:25pm

Thanks for that info, I didn't realize so many people would still be hitting both shows. Uptown is huge. 

Comment by Christina L. Towell on August 5, 2017 at 9:16am

Sounds like a winner, thanks for your review, Lawrence...glad you did well.

Comment by Layl McDill on August 10, 2017 at 10:30am

I was at both Loring and Uptown this year and would say it was true that I had a lot of repeat customers at Uptown but the case was more that they were buying from me twice- which was great!  My sales at Loring were down this year from other years but I did feel like my work got in front of a lot of people and even a lot of totally new people because there were so many tourists coming over from the Walker which had just re opened it's sculpture park.  I had a lot of foreign customers which was cool.  It probably won't work into my schedule to do this show next year but I will try for it if it does.

Another note is that the show organizers do A LOT to get the word out on Loring.  I would say I heard way more about Loring in the media than I did Uptown and I was even worried that people might not know about Uptown!  Not the case as it was very busy. But the Loring organizers know they have a big job of getting the word out that they are different weekend than Uptown now and I would say they are doing the work to make it happen.


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