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Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, Reston VA

Northern Virginia  Fine Art Festival is the third weekend of May. This was the third year we have done this show.  I have written two other reviews .  If you want more info see past reviews and hopefully we get some other artists to add to this review for other insight.


The show is on the streets at Town Center in Reston VA with middle to high end stores, high end restaurants, offices and expensive high rise condos, town homes and houses.  A true mixed use area. 


 Like I have said in the past I really like working with this show.  They have excellent communication with the artists before during and after the show.  They always encourage feedback and implement what they can into future shows.  This year the artist check in and artist lounge was moved to the middle of the show.  That was great and it was wonderful to be able to have a real bathroom, constant water, snacks and a place to charge phones when we needed it.  The volunteers at this show are hands on and take their job seriously.   Every day, including set up day, the volunteers  in  your  area introduced themselves and asked us what they could do for us.  They went  above and beyond in the past and this year was no different.  I also noticed how clean the show kept the streets.  It was almost like Disney Land, if a piece of trash was on the ground with in minutes it was swept up.  Security is also very good at this show. 


Booths.  They are set up mostly along the main street with some off shoots.  The majority of  booths are on one side of a very wide street.  There is some controversy with how they lay out this show.  The main street is the place to be for the best exposure.  If you want to request a location you have to pay an extra $100 per booth.  We have a double booth so that's an extra $200.   I don't have a problem with this.  You are paying for location and that is the name of the game.  Its business and paying extra for location is the norm with most things, retail, real estate etc.  Wind is another concern here.  The buildings create wind tunnels.  Be prepared for wind even on a day with great weather forecast.   Also be prepared for all type of weather, heat, rain, cold, all the above in this part of the country this time of year. 


Set up is Friday starting at 10 am.  If you print out your loading pass ahead of time you can line up before checking in.  If you haven't no problem you can check in starting at 9 am, but they were ready at 8 am, and there is a load in pass in your packet.  Load in is smooth.  The streets are wide.  When you pull up they check via walkie talkie to make sure there is space for you to park near your booth.  We arrived around 9 am to line up for 10 am load in.  We had a delivery in Potamac MD at noon, yes a BIG pre sale before the show even started, and there was a Serb Fest in Potamac near our client.  Michael is Serbian so we had to make time to do that.  So we needed to get in and out by 11:30 to make the delivery and have a little fun too.  We got to our spot at 10:15 am and I started the countdown.  It was going to be a warm day.  It hit 94 degrees and we haven't done a hot set up in a while.  We were able to get  the basics of set up done in 1:15 hours.  I know many artists around me were wondering why I was yelling 30 minutes, 20, 10, 5, gotta go now.  Easy out and off to finish the first big sale for the weekend.  We returned around 4 pm to finish up.  Damn it was hot and humid.  We did what we could for about 45 minutes and decided to finish up the few small things the next morning since it was not going to be hot,  94 for set up but the next day was going to be in the 50s in the morning.   There is a gala on site on Friday night and is a nice event but we were so sweaty and artist stinky, plus  worn out so we had to skip it.  We went back to the hotel and called it a night. 


Saturday and Sunday the weather was much cooler and IMO perfect weather for an art show.  Sales for us started right away and continued throughout the day.  Sunday had be backs and finalized commission pieces.  This was our best Reston yet.  Many of our artist friends also had strong shows, including the photographer next to us.  Unfortunately not everyone did.  A metal artist friend zeroed and a few other artists we met did as well.  Just like most shows, some kill it, some make a pay check and others won't return. 


Break down is also very organized. Break down your booth and get a pass go line up.  Again love this shows organizers.  One artist tried to cut  the line and the security guard let her BUT the show staff was not letting that happen and made her go back.  Thank you Reston for being on top of this.  We don't need much help since there are two of us but one thing to just mention at break down one of the volunteers offered help.  We usually say no since it slows us down but we knew that these folks could actually help.  It may seem like a small thing but having someone zip up 5 different bags that have been loaded with pipes and walls that are on the ground is pretty awesome.  We all know how tired we are and damn not having to  bend down again 5 times holding a squat  to zip stuff up is pretty cool.  It's a small thing but helped us save our backs some.  Thank you Lisa.  The show closed at 5 pm and we were back to our hotel enjoying celebratory cocktails by 6pm.   


Just to add, this year we decided to not stay at the hotel on site but stayed at The Sheraton very close to the show.  The Sheraton was  about 1/2 the cost of the Hyatts artist rate.  They had a free shuttle and we preferred this hotel.  Another plus is the food.  You don't have to eat from food trucks or food tents.  There are a ton of wonderful restaurants to choose from, as you can see from the picture below I am a big fan of Mediterranean food.  Make time to eat at Neylas.This picture I couldn't resist adding.  This was the first time I have seen someone walking their pet turtle at a show. 

Lastly we enjoyed a little side trip on the way up, Monticello.  I have always wanted to visit this landmark.  Good luck everyone, travel safe and enjoy the journey.

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Comment by margaret luttrell on June 13, 2017 at 11:27pm

Thanks Melanie....I got in but cancelled because it was during the time I went to Bali. Next year I defiantly try again-sounds like a sophisticated, art savvy crowd!

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on June 14, 2017 at 10:16pm
Marge Bali must have been amazing. You are right it is a sophisticated, art savvy crowd. All though some artists with more cutting edge work did not do as well. Amazing talent, award winning, artists I am beyond impressed with didn't have a good show. It just comes down to wether or not this is your market.


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