Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Has anybody done this show. I am really nervous as it will be my first show where  I can't drive. I live in Boston. Like what do I do about a booth? I can't ship.

Views: 346

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The best tip I can give you is be prepared for wind. Even when it's not a windy day, a lot of the spaces are very windy. I lost a jewelry case on a rather calm day there...
Umm... I guess my first question would be, "Why did you apply to a show where you didn't know you could get a tent or not and you can't ship things?"  No offense, but I would think that would be a deal-breaker to attending a show!  LOL!  Contact the art organization to see if they can help you out, but I seem to remember they had some spots under a big tent they provided.  Not sure if they're still doing that or not.
Hi Amy Good point, I know it sounds weird, but I have only been doing indoor shows and this is my first year. I wanted to branch out to outdoor. I do intend to get a tent, but not sure what to get, what works the best. And I planning on taking everything on the plane with me, so I was hoping for advise as to what would  be good to travel, lightly. I am a fiber artist and I can pack all my goods in one suitcase and I display using a strap and rod system, which hangs off my indoor booth, and packs into the same suitcase. So I am hoping to find a tent that will accept my present system, with modifications of course. Any advise would be welcome.

Having done the show almost every year since '93, I would suggest emailing them and asking if they can get you a rental tent - I've seen them there before.  And the rental tents will have weights on each leg.  I don't know how you'll get from the airport to the show site or to your hotel, but maybe a cab?  The host hotel - the Mark Twain - is only about two blocks from the show site, so you won't need a vehicle once you've set up.

They have a free pizza and beer party at the show site on Fri. evening, so come hungry, plus they bring around lunches on Sat. and Sun., plus coffee and muffins each morning.  You will gain weight at this show!

Setup is Fri., starting about 10 AM, you will get a setup time, but you can get there a little early if you wish.  Get a ride to the artists' party on Sat. night.  It is not to be missed.  Those people put on one of the greatest laff riots of any show you'll ever do.  And the food and bottomless bottles of wine and beer don't hurt, either.

Thank you Ron    I am really nervous as this will be my first show outside the new englang area. Is it a well attended show?

Barbara, I have been a volunteer with the Art guild for over 12 years - and co-chaired the fair for as many.  Call the Art Guild = 309-671-1093, talk to Emily, the staff coordinator, she can put you in touch with the tent rental company - Cook Rentals (309) 676-5544, or you can call them directly.  They will for about $100 maybe a little more, deliver and set up your tent, and as Michael said, include weights.  The show has an average attendance of 40,000 over the two days, a GREAT preview party event for patrons and sponsors.  The Art Guild does a great job of regional advertising and promotion, and the audience comes from St. Louis to Chicago.  Average sales are in the $4,000 range.  One jeweler consistently does over $28,000 each year.... Not everyone does that well, of course, but you'll have a good show, be treated like royalty, and spend a beautiful fall weekend on the Riverfront.  Enjoy,


Don't do it! I did this show two years ago and it remains my level of comparison for bad shows. There are no sales at this show. All the artists I talked to said they don't know why they keep coming back- "for the party, I guess" I kept hearing.  ugh


Terry, I'm the former co-chairperson of the Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair and don't see you in our database of participating artists.  Perhaps you have the show confused with one of the other ones in Peoria?

Ok... here's my two cents about this show.  As a "local artist", it's been a very long while that we've felt that the Art Guild desired "status" that is found by having national and international artists participate in the show, to the detriment of local artist participation.  So, after being ignored for so many years, most local artists don't even apply to this show!  Yes, they give a great party and treat artists very well, but Peoria is a blue-collar working town and there isn't gobs of money that are spent on anything, let alone art.  I actually go to Bloomington, 45 minutes to the east of Peoria, to do art related things, as it is a much larger white collar community with more disposable income to spend.  Having said that, we local folks don't understand how you "outside artists" keep coming back year after year! First, your crowds have to pay to get in. It started out at $1, then $3, then $5 and now rumor has it $7-$10 to get in the gate. I've actually watched people walk away from the gate when they find out they have to pay to get in. Again, we're not a bigger metro area and people here complain about even having to pay for parking, let alone participating in something! So, you're losing your audience and potential customers right off the bat. Secondly, many of you do larger venues in more metropolitan areas, and your prices reflect as such. The #1 complaint I hear from those that attend is that there is nothing there that they can afford to buy. I think photography does pretty decent (unframed and matted pieces, of course), and anyone who has smaller items that can be purchased. On the rare occasion I'm not doing a show the same weekend as the PAG show, I've gone through to see what artists I know and to look at booths/displays/etc. It's been several years now since I've gone and I know I walked away empty handed! One jeweler I looked at had necklaces ranging from $800-$1200... and she wasn't very busy. Another jeweler had really, really cool bracelets, but they STARTED at $1500. They were worth every penny, to be sure, but that is NOT something that most individuals in Peoria can buy. A 2D mixed media artist I saw had a huge primary piece in his booth that was $10K!! We're not Chicago or St. Louis and don't have the quantity of "upper class" needed to make this a successful show for everyone. So... it still puzzles "us locals" why you all come back again and again... We've sort of thought the show would falter a long time ago (kudos to the Art Guild for keeping you all coming back!).

I know this may sound like sour grapes but truly... we don't get it!! For those individuals who have found success, we'd love to know how and why!

In what way?  Good or bad? 

Well, again... I didn't want to seem like "sour grapes" because I don't do the show, but I honestly wish I could hear from folks that have done fabulously at it because I honestly "don't get it".  How are they doing so well?  Yes, I see lots of folks there, but are they all buying?  If I were to wager, I'd say the median price on things that sell would be... $20-$75.  I'm sure there are the occasional upper end sale or two, but I can't imagine that people do $4K+ at this show... maybe they do but I'd be really surprised!  The Guild has done a great job treating the artists like kings and queens, however, and I do think artists will overlook mediocre shows to be treated well.  From my own experience, I have kept a smaller show on my schedule that's on the lower end of my "performance scale" simply because it's so easy to do and the art's organization that puts it on treats us SO well!  So, maybe putting on a kick ass party is putting the show on people's list!  (And, what does it say about how we are treated at "promoter driven" shows that we CRAVE to be treated nicely!  Craziness...)


The art "show" show that's in Bloomington is the Sugar Creek Arts Festival and I have to say it's a mixed bag.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  They seem to have very inconsistent jurying, in my opinion.  Some years they select amazing artists, the next year it is full of total crap.  (I know some of the artists they accepted this year and it looks to be a crap year!  One of the jewelers doing it is a total "beader" with a very poor display so I have NO idea what the jury was looking at because it's not stuff I would expect to see at a better "art show"...)  I did it for 3 years and each year it was the lowest performing show I did so I dropped it from my roster.  However, I have a great client base there and actually, if I'm not doing a show on any given weekend, I'll drive over to do their Saturday morning market.  On the Sugar Creek weekends, if I do the market, I'll usually make in 4 hours what I made in 2 days each of the 3 years I did Sugar Creek.  CRAZY!  So... to me, it's just not worth doing that show.  HOWEVER, the community in Bloomington/Normal is very supportive of the arts and in supporting local art, so if I am looking at doing a trunk show or some type of gathering, I look there...  I guess it goes back to getting to know where your stuff sells and who is a good audience for you and, as we're learning, finding out the REAL info about shows, not just what's on the glossy postcard or slick website!

I can't speak to the Peoria show because they've never accepted me and keep annoying me every year to send a jury fee. I quit applying to them several years ago - sometimes it's just best to not apply to a show that has demonstrated it doesn't want someone's work.

I can and will gladly speak with regard to Sugar Creek.

It's a show that has managed to keep booth fees and jury fees way down. The town has weathered all kinds of economic maladies locally and nationally while pulling out all the stops when it came to giving their uptown district in Normal a major, major facelift. Their art center is a gem in the middle of Illinois and their director is a straight shooter - as far as I know at this writing he's not enjoying a cake job with an inflated salary, a sorry-ass ego, and a bully-swagger while grabbing all kinds of funding from the damndest places like local city governments - it does happen out there - we are in a sleazy business sometimes, but not in Normal and not with Doug. Doug is the director of the arts center that puts on the Sugar Creek show. He's a stand-up guy putting together a pretty good, affordable, quality show that I have been privileged to be part of over the years on a fairly consistent basis. Many artists supported Doug and the other staff at MCAC by standing with him when the show was held in the old uptown and during the renovation. I've done shows there in the middle of a construction site, in the quad of the college, etc. while waiting for the show to return to the street. Sure sales took a dive, but my long-term outlook on the Normal-Bloomington market has not, nor my relationships with some wonderful, outstanding people that also collect art.

Some people didn't show the event very much love over the years and despite their lack of support - I know Doug is the kind of guy that will make sure the jurying is fair and impartial, something that does not happen in too many other shows. Even when some folks do trunk shows and parking lot swap meets - I know that Doug and the people at MCAC wish them well and sleep well at night knowing they helped keep art in the spotlight in Normal-Bloomington over the years despite the benefit to ancillary vendors.

They put together a show in March as well in Bloomington that can be challenging, but I apply to it primarily because I want to support the art center as a way of saying "thank you" for building up the Sugar Creek show and teaching/encouraging the local citizenry to appreciate and collect art.

The strongest element of the Sugar Creek show is the local support of art in Normal-Bloomington. I do shows all over the place and pound for pound I have never seen a more appreciative, inquisitive, and supportive crowd to date at any other show big or small.

Regarding how sales are made in an unlikely setting - even though I am not supportive of the Peoria show and a few others that just have a "yuck" factor that I cannot measure or adequately describe here - it is important to remember that a show does not sell art. The artist sells the art. All a show can do is say they will try to bring people to the event and they will provide you with a space to pitch your tent and peddle your wares. Obviously there is selling going on in Peoria-type shows. That is due to the artist, not the show. That's what makes a show successful, how well the artists sell. Nothing else. The show is responsible for attracting buyers as far as the artist is concerned. Sometimes that means advertising and branding. More often for these types of shows it is incumbent upon the organizations sponsoring the show to teach and encourage the people in the area on why and how they should consider collecting or how to collect or purchase art. When this happens in a town like Normal, it should be applauded and supported by genuine artists - whether they are crap artists or not in the eyes of a Saturday morning market vendor.


Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the our latest Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

Video Website Reviews

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2021   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service