PROMOTER: Art Center of Estes Park
FEES: Jury $30, Booth $325 on Zapplication
NUMBER OF BOOTHS: 109
This was the 20th annual Art Market produced by the Art Center of Estes Park. You can apply to the show on Zapp. The jury fee is $30 and standard booth fee is $325. The application deadline is the first of March.
GEOGRAPHY, CLIMATE, DEMPOGRAPHICS
Estes Park is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Access from Denver and I-25 is by US-34 through Big Thompson Canyon or US-36 up the St. Vrain River. The St. Vrain and Big Thompson Rivers flooded in the fall of 2013 and evidence of these major floods is still present. New construction on Hwy 34 elevated the roadway and straightened sore sections. Check the weather and road reports (www.cotrip.org). Trail Ridge Road crosses the mountains in the National Park, and the resort areas of Granby, Grand Lake and Winter Park are on the west side. This year, the road had not opened because of recent heavy snowstorms.
“Parks” in Colorado refer to broad intermountain valleys. You have all probably heard of South Park. There are also North Park, Middle Park, Allens Park etc. Estes Park is one of these valleys at an elevation of 7,522’. Mountain weather can be unpredictable, and this is true of Estes Park. Fresh snow was on the hillside tree when we arrived Thursday evening. It was chilly Friday during set up and long johns felt good. Saturday morning, I almost felt like shedding my undershirt but by afternoon I was glad I kept it on. Sunday was chilly with a few sprinkles. Monday was cold with about 45 minutes of rain around 1:30 pm and again during take down around 6:00 pm. There was snow overnight Monday on the surrounding hills. High winds are also possible in the mountains.
There are many summer homes around Estes Park and in the
foothills. The area is a destination for metro Denver residents and both national and international tourists. .One can observe many nationalities and hear diverse languages being spoken at this show. Among multigenerational families it was not unusual to see grandpa and grandma in native dress from India and Pakistan. The crowed is definitely middle class, many families with pre-teen kids, lots of dogs, and with a large percent from the Midwest judging from college sweat shirts.
SETUP AND TAKE DOWN
One hundred nine booths are arranged around Bond Park, and in and along the City Hall parking area. All booths are on hard surfaces. A few special considerations about doing this show are altitude sickness if you are a “flatlander” and presence of wildlife: elk, deer, bears and the smaller critters. Cautionary information is in your information packet.
Registration was listed as open at 9:30am Friday but volunteers were there earlier to start check in, which was great. You check in, get your booth assignment, then unload in designated areas on the park perimeter. The procedure, which I like, is to park, unload your stuff, move your vehicle off site, then set up your booth. There was none of this parking in front of your and your neighbors’ booths while you dink around unloading and setting up for several hours. There was a designated trailer parking area with a shuttle back to the show.
Take Down was similar. You paid your taxes and got a loading permit. You took your booth down and then you were allowed to bring your vehicle into a parking area to load your stuff. There was no congestion created by people parking vehicles in front of their booth site for hours while they took down and loaded. No one had to dolly farther than 40 yards. The late loaders could drive in for loading. There were lots of volunteers to help with unloading and loading. Booth sitters were available, and there are clean accessible rest rooms in the City Hall.
SALES AND ANALYSIS
I have done the Estes Park Art Market for eight years. It started out as a solid $2K sales show for me and in my best year sales were a little over $3K. Therefore, I went this year with financial expectations of around $3.5K sales. This year crowds were a little smaller than usual. This could be attributed to Trail Ridge Road not being open. The deep snow drifts the road cuts through are an attraction. I talked to some Midwest farmers who were taking vacation time as their fields were too muddy to plant. I would guess others stayed home not knowing how their markets would be affected by tariffs. I had good sales all three days with sales ranging from $4 to $170 with $57 average. Belts with silver and utility buckles were my biggest seller followed by holsters. A little of everything else sold including horse brass martingales, dog collars and leashes, checkbooks, credit card cases, eyeglass cases, magnetic money clips, flasks, suspenders and the proverbial napkin rings. After I had gone to pay my sales tax at 4:00 pm closing, Jean sold another $367 of belts and silver buckles. Our margin for the show was 65%. This year’s numbers were like last years.
There was a good mix of mediums with several new artists in all mediums. There was a definite upgrade in art this year. I have a following at this show with returning clients. One fellow was doing a great job “selling” my belts to a new person. One thing that was off this year were the number of special-order requests. I only have one, and I attribute this to fewer Midwest ag people showing up this year
The Art Center provided a very thorough pre-show information packet. Besides the usual check in and set up information, there were tips about the weather, wildlife and adjusting to the high altitude. They also provided maps of the Estes Park region. An artists’ reception was held Saturday night at the Art Center Gallery. There was coffee and goodies every morning, and booth sitters were available. Food vendors are present. There was a silent auction of donated art and a high percentage of artists donate work.
The management of this show is exceptional in taking care of their artists. Who else, other than your mother, would remind you to wear warm socks?
Art shows in Colorado resort areas are mini vacations out of the studio for me. We have found it is less expensive to rent a modern cabin or condo in the area which in some cases are less expensive than motels. We eat in to save money. This year we had 3 young bull elk greet our arrival and half a dozen or so cow elk ran thru the yard Saturday evening. We took a short drive on the Glen Haven road and saw three large herds of cow elk in meadows. There are campgrounds throughout the area and in the National Park, but these are full Memorial Day weekend.
Estes Park has three major shows during the summer and fall. The Art Center Produces the Art Market Memorial Day Weekend, the Rotary produces the Estes Park Art and Craft Show Labor Day weekend In September, and the Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies produces the Arts and Crafts Festival in mid-September. There are other weekend events in the community.