I am a newbie to art fairs.  This summer will be my first.  

I was accepted at the Old Town Art Fair and the Lakefront Festival of Arts.  

I can only pick one due to budget and inventory constraints.  

Can anyone offer advice as to which would be a better fit for myself and my work?  I am a wood carver and sculpt flora/fauna.  Attached are pics. 

Thanks in advance!

Hibiscus 1 CBS.jpg

Peony7n CBS.jpg

Roses 1 CBS.jpg

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  • If you were in the clay category, I would say Old Town because I am just on the wait list for Lakefront and I want your space. Perhaps the wait list is not by category. If I was totally honest I would say Lakefront. The greedy person inside me says Old Town. Maybe they will give me your space after all. It's not like I don't have my plate full, already. I am in my share of top tier shows already.

    I'm laughing because this the typical thing that happens to newbies. You get into all the good shows and you think: "Hey this is easy." Good luck with that line of thinking. Eventually, they will get used to seeing you and you will be thrown back into the bunch with the rest of us. Seriously, it is easier to get into Old Town, than Lakefront.

    • Hi Barry. Yep, the first year we tried to get into Old Town and Lakefront we got it. We were blown away! Didn't always happen after that.

      As to this: "Seriously, it is easier to get into Old Town, than Lakefront."

      You are right. Both are hard to get into, but Lakefront is harder because there are fewer spaces available because they have an "artist advisor committee" (maybe 10) who are automatically invited because they work on the show, then they have the 10 or so prizewinners from the previous year AND when you win a prize there you can count on at least two years at the show. It's a deep bench of prizewinners.

      Old Town is hard because they have a high percentage of invited artists, those who scored well in the street jury the previous year. Not sure what that percentage is but its pretty hefty.

  • Thanks everyone for the advice.  

    I am not 100%, but I’m leaning toward Milwaukee.  Barry, i am in between old town and Milwaukee and will stay at my house... maybe we will be able to meet? :)  So the travel is not a concern.  Sounds like set up is easier in Milwaukee which I like.  :) 

    kathleen, these were made from basswood, maple and poplar. 

    And larry, I didn’t have my name in the pics.  I read a lot of your info which was very helpful... thx for that! 


  • Oh no, what a hard decision, Scott. Two good shows. I'd put the choice down to which is most convenient for you. Expenses in Chicago are high (although the last time I was there i found a hostel not too far away). It is congested, parking is tricky ... but the devotion to the show and buying there is strong. We had our best two day show ever at Old Town.

    Now, the ease of participating at Milwaukee is unparalleled. The beautiful tents and the lakefront setting. Good buyers and decent prize money as well as the prizes garnering you a reinvitation for at least two more years. We did both shows many times. Both are two of the best. 

    How much of an adventure do you want? How much do you want to spend on inconvenience? Two day show vs. three day show -- additional expense. Me, I'd probably choose Old Town (but don't tell anyone I'm saying this, don't cancel Lakefront and work like a dog to build up inventory just in case you can also get to Milwaukee the following weekend.

    The Wells Street show is at the same time in Chicago and nearby, but avoid it like the plague. Beer drinking crowds, younger crowd who are strictly amusing themselves. 

    • Connie, the parking for Old Town is right near the show. Once you set up parking is easy. Maybe there is an airbnb nearby that isn't too expensive. Which one is 3 days? I didn't bother applying to Old Town. Old Town is insulated from the Welles Street Beer Fest. The last time I did it, I hardly knew it was there. The highlight of the weekend is the naked bike ride.

    • Wow. It looks like he lives an hour from both shows, right smack in between them! I had first posted that he was an hour north of Old Town, and since I don't frequent the area I didn't consider that that is exactly the same distance to Milwaukee. So he's probably sleeping at home for these shows. That'll make Friday night in Milwaukee a difficult one, though.

    • Wow Scott!  Those are beautiful!  What kind of wood is it?

  • I will be at Lakefront. Hope to see you there. Milwaukee doesn't have as many shows as does Chicago. I can't remember if Wells Street is happening at the same time as Old Town? But that might not matter as much as just home many freekin' shows there are in Chicago.

    Very nice carving. I often carve frames for my wifes artworks. If I don't sell them before Lakefront, I'll have one or more with me in Milwaukee.

  • First time applying and getting into two top shows. Congratulations.

    I'd easily pick Lakefront over Old Town. Besides the potential being much better at Lakefront, it's indoors (large tents that you can drive to your space in) and not as subject to rain. Too bad Lakefront isn't before Old Town, you can always cancel the second if you run out of inventory. They would have no trouble filling cancellations from the waiting list. But definitely Lakefront.

    Nice work, hope you didn't have your name in your jury images.

    Larry Berman

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