I just got home from doing the art fair above. This is the beginning of my 13th show season, but it was my first time doing this show.
This small fair (only about 50 artists) is put on by the Village of Algonquin and the Public Arts Commission. I think they've been doing it for about 4 or 5 years, but this year they hired an event coordinator to deal with the jurying and the actual event set up and services. The event planner, Julie Farris was great, the artists' amenities were terrific, with breakfast and coffee each morning and free lunch each day from local restaurants. Booth sitters were available and they came around about every 2 hours with cold water (it was really hot on Sunday.)
Ok, so that was the positive part. The not so great part was that it rained for a little over half the day on Saturday, so traffic was poor and, from what I heard from other artists, many of us, myself included, made no sales at all on Saturday.
We all kept our chins up and just knew that Sunday would be better...a nice sunny (but warm) day right on the Fox river....beautiful setting, really. However, the fair didn't seem to be the actual destination for many of the strollers-by. I certainly didn't count, but I think the total traffic was less than 1,000 people all day. Most of them were out for a nice Father's Day brunch at the restaurant on the corner and just thought it would be nice to walk through the art fair. Very few people actually entered the booths to talk with or even admire the art.
Despite a conversation I had with one of the commissioners before the event, who assured me that Algonquin has one of the highest per capita incomes in Illinois; no one was spending any of it....not on art anyway. There was a guy who makes garden stepping stones....they are pretty, but he buys the molds and pours the concrete....dunno how he got past an art jury....whatever.
I was really trying to be nice to people. I got lots of compliments on my jewelry designs, but it aggravates me a little when they say nice things, but they haven't even stepped in to look. I think it's just something they are uttering to every artist as they walk by, as though it's expected. I stopped saying "thank you" because it didn't seem to make any difference. But after a while it was the same thing over and over....if I had to guess I would say that maybe a half dozen women actually touched one of my pieces. Two women tried on necklaces. One bought, the other didn't. I sold that necklace and two pair of earrings ....uggh. My total sales were only $200. I spent two nights in a motel, gas and tolls from Chicago, $80 booth fee, $15 jury fee....you do the math....I figure I'm about $200 in the hole on this one. Two or three of the other artists I had plenty of time to get friendly with, said they wouldn't be returning either.
Oh...here's the icing on an already bad cake....I was loading out and had my tailgate open and some of my boxes on the grass next to my car. I was bringing my weights over to pack them into the car....40lbs in each hand. I'm sweating my butt off and I'm red as a beet with sunburn and this Cadillac Escalade decides to park with it's hood pretty much under my open tailgate. The driver gets out of her car and is starting to walk away and I said (with the weights still in my hands) "gee, you got a little close there...would you please be willing to move back a few feet so I can get this into my car?" She proceeds to walk over, look at the white striped parking markings (I was at the back of my space...she was at the front of hers) and says, "I'm legally parked...you have room to move up," and just walks away with her kids and husband in tow. It was really a summation of how I felt most of the weekend. Disinterested people, some who almost appeared annoyed that we were taking up space on their bike path....some boaters even decided to have a picnic with a grill behind my tent......geesh!
Needless to say, I won't be returning.