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PROMOTER: Art Center of Estes Park

FEES: Jury $30, Booth $325 on Zapplication



This was the 17th 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.



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.  Hwy 34 opened through Big Thompson Canyon Thursday afternoon May 25th after being closed for construction. Check the weather and road reports ( if the weather is bad.  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 opened Saturday May 26, and it is a big attraction with deep snow drifts cut through.  

“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.  During the show weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were nice and in the low 70’s. Monday was overcast and chilly.  It rained for about an hour starting at 3:30 which was during shutdown starting at 4:00. Last May, we were right at the snow line for a very chilly show.  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.  It is not unusual for tour buses to pull up and unload their passengers at the show, but they are not typically my clients. 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.



      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.



I have done the Estes Park Art Market in seven of the last 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 $3.6K sales.  My new show minimum for returning is $1.2K.  We exceeded it this year, but just missed $4K.    The crowds were good Saturday and Sunday. Monday was a little slower as people were heading home, but it was still a good day. I had 67 sales and the average sale was $59. Individual sales ranged from $3 for a bandana for dogs to $150 for a holster.  I had post show special orders, and several returning clients for belts.  Our margin for the show was 56%. This year’s gross sales were up $1008 from 2017. The average sale was down $6.49 but total number of sales was up by 22 over 2017. Can you tell I am a numbers guy?

There was a good mix of mediums.  Wild life photography is popular with western subjects.  Photography, 2D and jewelry were the most abundant mediums.  Each year the quality has improved and price points have been higher.   



      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.



      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 6 wild turkey outside the condo and one evening there were three young bull elk and one old boy grazing along the condo parking lot. An Owl nest is on a cliff by the library parking lot used by artists. 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.


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Thanks Richard for taking the time to review this show.  As always, you did a great job.

Boy, it looks like you were awful close to that moose.  What a great shot.

Uh, out here those are elk. LOL

Dick failed to mention, that he and his wonderful wife, along with Fi Rust, helped Lori and I pack up our tent following the show on Monday. You guys are true angels.

My wife and I have done this show twice (2017-2018) and the mid-September show once (2017). We reapplied to this show Richard is reviewing since Estes Park is a beautiful place to be at a show, the committee is awesome, we won Best of Show last year, and because we thought that we could make better sales this time. We didn't reapply for the mid-September show despite that committee being awesome as well. And after this year in the Labor Day show, I don't think these shows are a good market for our art. I don't even feel confident about the potential to make profit let alone a high-end sale in this market with our art. We nearly sold a really expensive piece the first year, and that's the reason we came back this year. And we have some potential customers from the area for the future after this year. But we need to pay our way---TODAY. We also discovered a great new model for my wife to draw during the 2017 Labor Day show, and we were able to photograph her during the mid-September show. That turned out great and my wife has already produced some awesome work using her. So there are other good things that have come from these shows.

We brought lower priced items this time, too. We have reproductions of our originals priced from $35 to $235, as usual. And this time we even brought lower priced originals along with those in the high-end. Most artists would say that our low-end at $925 is well over their high-end. Our typical high-end is $2,200 to $3,200 with a few show-stoppers two and three times that price. We nearly sold one of them last year, and I know that sounds fishy to some. But it was real. It was art specific, so there's no trying to do something else and contacting them about it. We're just too expensive.

One small $45 sale went to a woman who said she was local, then pointed up from our booth into the mountainside and said, "And there's our house." So affluent folks are here. Estes Park is an expensive place for property.

I enjoyed many of the artists once again this time. Happy to see Richard and Joan and the delightful Weldon Lee again, too. Happy trails, y'all. See y'all again sometime soon.

My wife uses charcoal and soft pastel to create finely detailed imaginative and contemporary realism. I then handcraft picture frames for her work, often carving the wood and gilding it with karat gold leaf. So for every original drawing she does, I do an original frame. We are not new to art nor the business since we've both been professional artists since 1989. Here's what we looked like in Estes Park. Then scroll down to see the photograph I made above 11,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday night after the show; it makes a great 24-inch wide print--that I make myself with my own Epson printer. While everyone else was doing the sunset that night, I was doing the moon in the opposite direction. And I got really lucky with this one.


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