I am new to art fairs and live in Texas. I have noticed that the fees for a lot of fairs is quite expensive. Are there there fairs that do not have high booth fees for newbies? I am also trying to find the cheapest way to set up tent with mesh panels as I am single and have a large car but not a truck and trailer.
My best advice for you is to really know what you want out of doing art fairs - i.e. what goals have you set for yourself? You hope to make extra money? Want to do sell at shows full time? Once you have set some simple goals it helps you bring focus and create mini steps to achieve that goal. For the most part the best way to get your feet wet is through doing local shows - church events, street fairs, food festivals (such as Apple Festivals), etc. Many of them advertise in places like dept. of tourism sites for your city, county and state as well as calender of events sections in your local papers. There are several website devoted to this too, but you may find more higher end events that way, but that is good for when you want to do a few of those as well - I like festivalnetworkonline.org it offers all kinds of events. Also know your limits - such as the lowest and highest you are willing to pay for a space as well as willing to travel. If you are just starting out work with indoor events and if you need to use mesh panels you'll most likely need to apply to events that have 10x10 spaces - some smaller shows don't offer 10x10 spaces. You can however fix paneling to the frame of a 10x10 canopy with bungee cords and other things like that, but it is best to try doing it at home and not the day of the event as you can find yourself wasting a lot of time playing with your display than selling.
My last piece of advice is actually go to some shows as a scout. See what kind of shoppers are there, the type of artists/non-artists selling at them, and so forth to really know what to expect when you actually set up for your first event.
Wishing you Luck!
The best way for a newbie to start is to start at your local level, doing non-juried events first. That way you get your feet wet, so to speak, without all the expense of jurying into the more expensive fairs. local festivals and fairs will also provide you with a little experience in doing a set-up/tear down in ANY weather, and will also help you to develop yourself as a salesperson. Doing these gigs is NOT for the faint at heart, or the fair weather individual. It takes a lot of physical work, a healthy can-do attitude (no Fairy Princesses here) and a well developed sense of self- to do this year in and out. I myself have been doing it for 3 years- no truck, just my Crown Vic, my EZ-up, and my booth tables and displays. Although jewelry is my medium, it is still a lot fetch , lift, carry, etc. Add to that, Mother Nature can be down right UNFRIENDLY to us, and then add your typical Negative Nellie's (and not all are the customers!), and some days will feel like a total disaster. But those are usually few and far between. As to the mesh panels - I don't have any experience with them, but if you type in mesh panels on the search bar, there are probably several discussions concerning them.