This past weekend I did the Annapolis Art and Craft Festival.  I was extremely disappointed!  I do a lot of shows in Southwest Florida.  This was not the quality I am accustomed to!   I have not applied to out of town shows and was excited that I was accepted!  Unfortunately, it was not was I expected.

This show was NOT an "art show".  It is a "craft show".  There were some excellent crafters.   There were also some buy/sell.  There were some mediocre crafters and quite a few "country crafters"  There were a lot of jewelry booths, ranging from assembled beaders to a few fine goldsmiths.  There were around 200 participants.  A comment I frequently heard was "I thought this was a juried show".   I would not have been as frustrated if I had been aware that it was a "craft" show. 

I am a metalsmith/jeweler.  I was located on a corner.  Directly accross from my booth were two goldsmiths, a beader, and a beach glass/silver designer,  Right behind me was a fabric person -- She had dresses she designed, but did not make -- two booths worth.  Next to me was a fabric purse/bag maker, across an apron maker, a pillow maker -- and so on.  When I walked around the show, everyone I talked to was unhappy about the sales. 

There is an $8 fee to get in and a $5 fee to park.  The location is at the Navy Stadium -- which sounded great!  But it was not nice.  It is the dirtiest location I have done.  It is a sand parking lot.  We were constantly cleaning the cases.  It is a FILTHY location.  The booths are backed right up next to one another.  There is no storage space behind the booths.  I paid the extra $25 to have a corner location and I am happy I did.  I got a little bit of a breeze. 

It was a well-organized show.   However, will I apply again.  Probably not.  I came primarily because I have family in the area and a nine-month old granddaughter I want to visit. 

I do not recommend this show.

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  •  I also did this show the first year and agree with everything that has already been said. I will add one story, the Annapolis Anne Arundle Arts Council was there and handing out water to the artists, it was around 100 degrees that year, I am still grateful for that water. One of the Arts Council people (one of the head people, cant quite remember who) asked me why none of the artists took the free housing volunteered by its members. "what are you talking about" I asked. Apparently the wonderful promoter had never let any of us know about this incredibly generous offer.

  • This show has been going down hill since its inception.  The first year had first class artists, but very few came back the second year because of sales/nasty hot weather.  The second year they let too many beaded jewelry people in and also buy-sell.  I agree the "grass" is disgusting.  I weatherd a severe storm the second year and was covered in the grit you refer to. In fact, my tent is still dirty from that event.  Event though the staff are nice and it's well organized, I will not go back.

    • I live in the Annapolis area and have followed it since the beginning. If you are a fine art or fine craft exhibitor avoid this show. History of the promoter is part of the problem - the promoter is a promoter and is making money - his only motivation. Several years ago, probably 9 or 10, he put on a juried fine art & craft fair on the grass at St. John's college.  I paid a hefty fee for the time, close to $400. and sometime, perhaps a month after the original deadline, it was changed to an art, wine and jazz fair. Admission would be charged for entrance to the event.  This was not in the original contract and I was not offered a chance to drop out and get my money refunded with the change of venue. The show was well attended for the jazz and wine part and we were like animals in the zoo for entertainment between sets. The show never returned to St. John's which was a much nicer setting and it went away until reincarnation about 4 years ago at the Navy stadium. I never applied because of the history of the promoter and my previous dealings which I felt were unethical.  Anybody local that asked me about doing it, I advised against it. Any of my professional artist friends on the circuit that asked,  suggested they avoid it. As it is local for me I saw the advertising change as time neared the event.  Many more wineries included this year were some of the headlines in PR and advertising. I was solicited three time via email, after the deadline for art entries, to do this show: they know my work, they want the quality of my work, etc. I did not respond to any of this.  I have tried not to voice my opinions too vocally unless I am specifically asked - I am afraid of libel.

      When clients, friends asked if I would do the show  merely said no. This year those friends told me they now knew why: lots of low end craft, crafty shtick, and a few very good artists who sold poorly.

      In all, I don't respect this promoter, it is not about art and craft, it is about him making money.  How he convinced the Annapolis Anne Arundel Arts Council to be listed as a sponsor appalls me. I don't know who served on the jury or if there was one. It was advertised as juried when applications were solicited but the jurors were never disclosed.

      If you are looking at out of town shows, try and find local artists that exhibit on the circuit and ask them for their opinion.  Charlotte did a great job of reporting on the shows in her part of Florida and that is the helpful kind of information we need to share.  In the DC area it is hard to find a good show, the Bethesda show in the Spring draws some good artists but sales have been spotty for most that I know - I did it once and don't apply anymore. Bethesda Row in the Fall is probably the better of the shows there, again I did it twice and that was enough for me. I have contemporary fine art and it wasn't my audience.  Jewelers did well and so did some potters. I have not been able to get into Reston and when the jury fee goes up to $50. I quite throwing my checks at them. A sculptor friend of mine did Reston and the Bethesda spring show this year and did not do well at either show.  e was especially disappointed in Reston as it has such a great reputation - check it our and let me know what others think on the DC area. Annapolis is only 20 miles from DC but does not draw any audience from DC or wealthy suburbs.  It is also a very conservative town as far as its art tastes.  I still do fairs but unfortunately I can't find a decent local one for my work.

      • Libel only applies if it it is a lie. If it's factual, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on. They would stand to lose more in negative PR if  a fallacious suit were brought. You would be on solid ground.

  • Hello Charlotte,

    I am sorry you had such a poor experience.  Thank you for posting this review as well.  

    Slightly off subject, but you mentioned you have done many shows in SW Florida.   Could you please share which shows you liked best and why?  I have yet to do a show in the Gulf Coast (closest I came was Lakeland, which was a nice show).

    Thank you.

    • I live in Naples and there are shows almost every weekend January through April.  The "big" shows prefer to bring in "out of towners".  It is interesting to look at the places people are from.  Very few if any appear to be from Naples, Bonita Springs Fort Myers at the shows sponsored by the art organizations. I have not done any of them.  The Naples Art Association sponsors four or five shows.  Bonita Springs Art League sponsors three or four.  These shows attract pretty good crowds.  They are pretty competitive.  There is one or two big shows in Fort Myers.  I have never been to them. and cannot comment on them.  Hot Works also does a couple of shows. Howard Alan has a couple of shows in Estero.  Both are well attended.  I have yet to apply to them, but plan to.  Being jewelry, I am aware that my chances are slim unless I get in at the very beginning of the applications.  These would be considered the "A" Tier shows for the area.  Boulderbrooke Shows is a relatively new promoter - Richard Sullivan.  He runs well-organized shows, but they are new - some first year shows in Naples. 

      I do the second level shows.  I belong to a couple of local artist's groups who put on one-day shows every month.  Naples Artcrafters is the best of them.  It is a juried group dedicated to supporting local artists and putting on quality shows.  It is totally volunteer and very affordable.  I also do monthly shows with Art in the Park (Naples Art Association) and Marco Island Left Bank Art Shows.  This past year I also did a few other shows.  I am just starting to apply to the two-day shows.  Annapolis was my first out-of-town show.

      There are some excellent shows in Southwest Florida.  However, the market is getting completely oversaturated.  There are weekends where there will be three or four art shows within a 30 mile radius.  Our audience is primarily tourists.  If it is a bad beach day, we have big crowds.  If it is too cold, we may have the crowds, but they do not want to take their hands out of their pockets.  As everywhere else, it can be a crap shoot.  From talking with artists who have been doing the shows for years, the net results have gone down, as they have everywhere else.  There seemed to be a spurt in December, January and February, then my net profits went down significantly.

      I hope I answered your questions. 



      • Thanks Charlotte.  I'd been wondering about this as well so this is a great heads-up on the scene in your area.  Since the company I work for as my day job has decided I really-really-really want to retire I may actually be able to manage to attend one of those shows since my schedule is suddenly quite clear.  Your post is great guidance on what to aim for.

  • I too did this show as a photographer, and I have to say that with a special order I had from another show this was one of my best shows so far this year. I had a woman from a doctor's office and she bought a fair number of pieces from me which made it a good show financially. If it wasn't for that sale, it would have an OK show in terms of sales. You never know about these shows!

    Having said that, I would generally agree with the comments above. I was a very dirty location in that there was a lot o fine brown/red dust which got into everything and everywhere. I am still cleaning off my frames and canvases from the fine dust. There was a large wine tasting tent (which I don't ever remember being part of the show description) which while in itself was not a bad thing, just added to the overall affect of the show in that many of the people there were there for the wine tasting. It did feel very much like a tent city, in that we were all in rows and surrounded by a chain link portable fence which did give it a bit of a escape from NYC feel. 

    Having said all of that, the crowd was a decent crowd, and for me as a photographer it was a very interesting crowd in that I sold about 40 prints. I haven't really sold a lot of prints this year, and was wondering if prints were going out of style, but this crowd bought a lot of prints. What didn't sell well were canvas wraps (yes, I do mostly canvas wraps). Again, having said that, I still did well on the sales side (at least for me). 

    In my location (G aisle) I didn't see a lot of buy-sell, but there were a lot of crafts (but then it was an Art and Craft show). A woman next to me tore down her booth on Saturday and left, she said that if she doesn't do 2K a day, it's just not worth it, she only sold 300.00 worth of bags. 

    Well, that's about it. Would I do the show again? Perhaps, I did get a lot of email addresses for the area, so I would work my email list to drum up some visitors. I would do it again as one of my "B" tier shows. It's a good filler show for me.

    • Wow, tore down her booth on SATURDAY because she was falling short of $2,000 per day selling bags???  Seriously?  Sometimes I would love to get the true NET numbers and motivations of some artists that protest just a tad too much. :-)

      So, if you care to share, what shows are in your "A" Tier and even "B" Tier ... What are your favorites and why?

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