My first Penrod.

Let me begin by saying that every since I began seriously trying to get into art fairs, Penrod has been my dream, a symbol to me that I had really made it. The Penrod Art Fair is one of the BIG 3 Indianapolis art fairs, the other 3 being Broad Ripple and Talbot Street. I've tried to get into Penrod on and off over the past 7 or 8 years.  Last year I was wait-listed, but didn't get in.

I almost didn't apply this year. I have been messing around with my booth design and decor and it's not "there" yet.  At the last minute I sent off my Zapplication.  Wonder of wonder, I GOT IN!  I was thrilled, thought that I was hot stuff, and got THE BIG HEAD, having to go sideways through doorways for the past few months.

As the time got closer, I got more and more excited.  My husband and I had a major disagreement about how to exhibit our wares.  This was a BIG DEAL.  (Have you noticed how many BIG's I've used?)

Our last show was on the edge of Lake Michigan where there was a major storm and we noticed some small leaks in our old, serviceable Under Cover, so decided to get out our new tent for Penrod rather than try to patch up the old one.

Thunderstorms were predicted for the night before and the day of Penrod, but we have weathered other storms here in Indiana and coastal storms in Florida, so we weighted and staked our tent and went home to work on last minute details feeling secure.

Boy did we get a surprise when we arrived yesterday in the middle of heavy rain.  Our new tent had caved in! The four side poles were securely anchored, but the top was down in the tent on one side. The wonderful Penrod volunteers had a replacement tent sitting in front waiting for us.  We didn't have any of our work in the tent, so there was no damage there.  We lifted off the destroyed tent, righted the displays and dried things off as best we could.  We were ready to open, in the rain storm, on time.  

The field we were in was so saturated that we were nearly wading in the water. Each step in the booth resulted in muddy water coming above the soles of our shoes That  pond of water became a mud-pit before 2 hours had elapsed.  Penrod put down a mile of plywood sheets, but ran out before they got to our section. We sold some jewelry, but it was disheartening to see people pass us by because of the condition of our mired mess.  Around midday the sun came out for a bit and created a steamy muddy mess. 

Load out was hard, not the fault of the great volunteers, who carry things from the car and to the car for you.  The problem is that the beautiful museum ground setting had only 2 entrances for the 350 volunteer.  Parking is about a mile away with shuttle buses provided.  After tear down and getting to the car, everyone waits in line to get onto the museum grounds, then waits inside the grounds for space to clear so that you can load.  The volunteers communicate from the entrances to the 4 art fair sites on the grounds and vehicles are let in as there is room.  My area was the last to get out, with 80 some spaces.  I spent about 1 1/2 hours sitting in the middle of my stuff until my husband could get the car in.  I was pretty much cross-eyed with fatigue by the time we got home.  We live 15 minutes away.

My first Penrod was something that I won't forget, but didn't live up to my BIG dream.  I'm so grateful for the volunteers, that we didn't lose money and that I can say that I have done Penrod.  

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  • The horror stories about load-outs at Penrod are one reason I've never applied! Even though the downpour this year is an exception. My jewelry professor in grad school urged me to, but I'm getting too old for  such a hassle. . I exhibit alone, so there is no one to send for the van while I continue to break down for another hour or 2...or 3.

    • The wait time to get back into the grounds is a pain, but there are many artists there doing the show by themselves. One saving grace is that the volunteers will take your gear to the road and load it into your vehicle for you. They are particularly attentive to the older artists. My back was hurting on the way out after setting up on Friday, and had stopped to sit on a landscaping boulder for a moment when one of the volunteers on a golf cart stopped and gave us a lift to the 42nd Street gate. When it appeared there was some confusion over the way the shuttles were running, they gave us a ride in the cart up to the International School parking grounds.

    • Completely understand!

  • This year was an aberration. Most artists I spoke with said their sales were down by 50%, and that's due to the heavy rain. Carmel was hammered Saturday morning, and that's only a few miles further north. Normally the crowds are shoulder to shoulder at the opening of the gates at 9:00. Over on the Green section, crowds didn't show up until about noon time, three hours into the show. I was running late getting last minute set up down and everyone was wondering where the crowds were.

    I was up next to the road right in front of the Lilly Mansion, and while I had a slope that was pretty bad across a double booth, it at least didn't allow water to stand. Further down the row where the lawn flattened out it got pretty mucky there with the run off. It took us until dark to finally pack out due to the double booth and the panel extensions, so that was about a 3 1/2 hour tear down time. We learned long ago to have my wife go after the van while I finished taking down panels and the tent. It would take a good 45 minutes to an hour to get the van back in. Don't give up on the show yet, it usually doesn't rain like it did this time. I've done the show since 1988 and up until the last 4 or 5 years it was always dry.

    • Thanks for the kind words Robert.  If we get in again we will see how we feel.  Are you doing the MCAF again this year?

      • We will be doing the MCAF on Monument Circle again this year. I was told about someone who had their cash box swiped last year. I just can't understand why someone still uses a cash box any more. It seems like common sense to use a fanny pack or a shoulder strap bag to keep cash in. I have small pieces for $20 and $35 but folks still pay for them with a card.

        BTW, when you mentioned the long wait at Penrod to get out with an 80 artist section, that just about has to be the Blue section. I used to be about 3 or 4 booths from the end next to the fountain and it was terrible to get out of there. It would be way past dark and a few times it was past 10:00PM before we got out. The dolly out was bad enough but in the dark was worse. I had the boat battery with me one time, an inverter, and a 125 watt light bulb, so the battery combo stayed on the cart and was hooked up so I had a "head light" for the cart so I see where I was going. That was a long time ago, and back then you could only get three or four vehicles in there at a time. Those plywood sheets allow the vehicles to back into the edge of the field getting about three times as many to load up at one time. I was over there back in the late 80's to the early 90's when it wasn't nearly as well organized, and that was in the. days of the home made booths. I was exhausted after one of those horrible load outs and after getting my art work out, I said to hell with it and left the tent and wooden panels up and went home. I got up early on Sunday and drove back in. No one was there so I drove my van down the lawn, knocked down the booth, and got out of Dodge quickly.

        • I'll look for you at MCAF.  I stopped over to say hello last year.  I was in the red area at Penrod.  That load out that you described sounds too much to me!  

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