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It had been 6 years since the last time I participated in this show, even had a different portfolio of work to show, but the results were little better then the last time. I even had a better booth location, or so I thought.

Just the facts:

Show Hours and Dates: Scottsdale Arts Festival. March 10 -12.  Fri & Sat 10- 6, Sun 10 -5

Logistics:

The show is set up inside the the Scottdale Civic Center Park which has meandering paths, fountains and pools of water as-well-as hills. My booth was in the City Hall parking lot which was my choice. The last time I did this show I was at the western front and people just walked by. Set-up load in/out was either a breeze or miserable, depending on where your booth was. I saw some that were set-up just in front of the arts center and library that looked very difficult. If your booth didn't require a level surface you might have been on a hill. My load in/out was easy as it was well managed with plenty of room to maneuver.  By the way, "spring" came early this year with temperatures in the high 80's to 91. It was a little toasty out there.

Amenities:

Water,  coffee, fruit and volunteer booth sitters for the occasional break. Additionally, the show hosted a great lunch each day, a tip o' the hat to the volunteers manning the buffet.

Storage, Booth Space, Load-In/Out:

Depending on where you were situated there was room to spare or none at all. I had several feet of space behind my booth for storage and dodging the sun.

Demographics/Buying Trends:

Although this didn't appear to be the usual lemonade and popcorn crowd, they were cleverly disguised. According to Whitney Nelson, Festival & Events Coordinator, attendance was at 22,000. They all weren't buying. This was a slow show. What sold? Low end priced items, yard art and the occasional large 2D piece. People that had done the show previous years said it was pretty slow and they were rather discouraged. The furniture guy across from me sold bupkis.

Quality/Range of Art:

This show has a reputation for being one of the best quality shows in the AZ region and this year was no exception. From my limited survey of booths the work was great as usual!

Food:

It's always a good idea to keep the patrons there with food, drinks and places to sit. Good thing there were many high quality food trucks dispersed throughout the show site.

Reflections:

This was not a first time show for me and it didn't go so well this year either. As I reported, my low end items sold best even though there was a lot of interest in my images and the usual banter of "I'll be back" brought no solace to me. The jewelers on either side of me were quite discouraged and had thoughts of not returning. There were two music venues which may have actually had a negative effect on the buying, on Sunday afternoon most of the crowd was alone on the hill listening to the Beatles wannabees. When there was a good act the people disappeared. Additionally, as it was quite hot, people would head for the shade. It was surprising to me to see the last hour of the show each day be empty as that was the nicest part of the day. Spring training was going on and maybe some of the crowd was killing time at the show but for a $10 entry fee you'd think they were serious about being there. Oh yeah, the entry fee. I think a lot of people were there for the musical acts to justify that fee.

Would I return? Well, maybe the weather was a fluke but the trend of non buying at shows is a carry over from last year. Are we still in campaign mode? Oh, I'll leave that alone.

Okay, now for the Dave Piper star rating! I'd give this show ✩✩ out of 5 and that is because of the nice job of logistics, great amenities, booth sitting, quality of the art, management, etc. As far as the buying goes, I'd give it half .

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Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on March 22, 2017 at 12:47pm

Yikes! Thanks for the review, Brian. WOOHOO!

Comment by Steve. Apple on March 23, 2017 at 9:52am

I  walked the show since i have never been and live within 100 miles,  Spoke to quite a few artists and some said they were doing fantastic (i had my doubts) but most were disappointed. Only saw one booth that may have been buy/sell,  from across the border.  Did see one food truck that had a line of at least 25 customers  Lobsterlady.  We stood in line for 15-20 min.  got our sandwich and noticed the line had not shrunk.  Went with a friend and that is the only thing he goes for.  Did pass one booth who i have seen at other shows and he was packed  did notice his prices were around 20 and up   most of what was selling from him was art on a stick.  yes it was toasty but when i walk a show i look for bags which i saw very few.  But was told that the big stuff was being delivered later.  Also my observance was most of the booths were empty.  Talked to a wood person and he had sold nothing as of 3 pm sunday.  May apply just to see if i could get in but that is next year.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on March 24, 2017 at 9:44am

Great detailed recap, Brian, too bad it wasn't a better show for you and others...it does make you wonder about the months ahead, doesn't it?

Comment by Lawrence M. Sawyer on March 24, 2017 at 12:05pm

THANK YOU for the review. My impression of Scottsdale is that there's sun and money there...thanks for setting me straight. Although one has to remember, this is just one reviewer, but every data point helps paint the picture. Thanks again. 

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