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Southwest Arts Festival

Indio, CA

Greater Coachella Valley Chamber


Setup on Wednesday was the easiest I have ever had. Organization was excellent and a beautiful venue.  This was a 4 day show that should be a 2 or 3 day show.  Somewhere around 150 artists. Traffic on Thursday was fair but only artists that were making sales were for items under $100 with a few larger items.  Friday, made the first sale. Traffic fairly good but sales were slow from what I saw and my first sale was 1 hr prior to close.  Saturday traffic was very busy and some artists with large art work made sales, most with desert scenes.  No sales for me until near close, finally made a sale. Sunday slow until noon then traffic picked up but no buying energy.


This is a very nice show, great promoters, volunteers, nice amenities (daily coffee, snacks, fruit, donuts, raisins, dates, water.  Volunteers delivering water  and cookies all day. Organizers were the best, venue was the best I have ever been at. Quality of artists was very high, the number was around 150 which is about the perfect size IMO.  Promoter is the chamber and did heavy advertising on TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, billboards over a fairly long period of time. Ads were in some markets in drivable communities like San Diego, Los Angeles and also as far as Phoenix .  The booth fee and commission rate of 15% is very fair based on the quality of this art festival.

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Replies to This Discussion

would you return?

Not sure. Because of the ease of setup, nice venue and easy show to do maybe. Will not do it again if they continue with the 4 day show. This used to be a three day show and most said that was to much. If changed to a 2 day show then would for sure.

thank you.. I have seen the trend to extend days.  a bit hard on those that do not have and RV

and I have found that sales are generally about the same for the location regardless of number of days. 

Robert, just got a survey from fountain hills  and instead of asking about the show they sent it in regards to raising the price of the show from 450 to 550   Well i gave them a piece of my mind and told them to get rid of all the buy/sell, as as i believe you said if the show was free you would not do  it   if what they sent is a survey i think they should return to school to see what  a real survey is 

Yep, I just saw your comment at, Steve. Good for them for asking, it truly alerts the artists as to what exactly they are thinking, and frankly, it is not about you. Too bad.

Steve, Just shows that Fountain Hills Chamber only cares about the money, not  the quality of the show. The Great Fair is just that, a fair not, an art festival. The survey you received shows they don't care about the quality of the show or about what artists think could improve the  show, only about the money they can make.

Robert, this is such good information (along with the other shows you reviewed yesterday). Would you please add it to the Blog at the top of this page ... more people will see it and the valuable time you took to write these reviews will be helpful to so many. Any show review should be put in the blog. Thanks.

Thanks Connie, just posted them.

Wonderful, Thank you Robert ... they are now out there in everyone's mailbox. Spending the winter in the SW? I thought you lived in the Midwest.

Connie, I never get updates to my mailbox for posts to the blog, how do I subscribe to them.

Yes I do live in the Midwest, Lake Geneva Wisconsin. Have been wintering the last 3 years renting in Rio Verde, AZ and this spring purchased a town house so spending 5 months away from  the snow and will head back to Wisconsin end of April.

Hi All. I did the Southwest Art Festival in 2016 (three days) and 2017 (four days) and this show has been a winner for me. I sell southwestern artwork (Shamans) and this is what they are looking for out there. I did the show in 2012 with my abstract sculptures and went home with zero sales. I tried it again in 2014 with abstract and again, zero. I fell in love with the southwest indigenous American artwork and decided to apply with my Shamans - bang, found the key for the lock.

The show is at the polo grounds in Indio, about 3 or 4 miles south highway 10, and about 2 miles east of La Quinta. The show is attended by residents throughout the area.

This year (the four day show) I had little expectations for a crowd on Thursday but I was wrong, very wrong. The place had (on a scale of 1 to 10) about an 8 every day for attendance. Most of the attendees are between 40 and 60 and they have just moved there or are established and looking for something interesting... not much to do in the desert if your retired, so going to the SWAF is a great adventure.

Three of my sales were to the same person on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, just could not get enough. My prices range from $95 to $1,800 and average out at $295.

I have some friends who also did the show and they were not as happy as me (financially). I don't know why they were not selling, but as I mentioned earlier, this (I think) is a southwest show (Southwest Art Festival) and I really do think that with that name on the show, this is what people are expecting to see there.

When you do the show you are given a receipt book when you check in that you have to fill out for each sale (If more than one sale to the person you put it all on one receipt). When the buyer leaves they have to give the gate person the yellow copy to get out with their goods, and they are tight on this.

Weather is always a back of the mind thought when doing desert shows. You never know what's going to happen. The 2016 show ended early on Sunday because of a wind storm. The 2017 show was perfect weather throughout the four days (thank goodness).

Load in is sometimes a bit tight as the aisles are only one car wide, but somehow we all seem to make it work. Load out goes a little easier if you take your time and knock down your booth then take your receipt book to the office, then get your car, wiggle your way in, and load up.

Booth spaces are reasonable for a California show. If you can, get a double. It gives you more room and makes it easier to breakdown in the end. The booth spaces are quads and larger than normal 10 x 12 wide, so a double gets you 10 x 24. You can even request an entire quad for not much more than a double. If you normally use a 10 x 10, a 10 x 20 space will allow you to show your work a lot better, it's just an investment in a second tent, but your "presence" will more than make up for the added expense.

The people organizing the show do a great job (it's never easy) and bring you water throughout the days (drink it!). Mornings there is some food and coffee for the artists. There is also a free lunch ticket for Friday (burger and chips).

If you do decide to apply and get into the show, I suggest bringing a cooler with some apples and power bars and lots of water to keep hydrated.

Good luck out there!


Thanks for the review, Robert, and the 2nd review and photos, Jeff. I am looking to get a show after West Coast Art & Frame Expo in Las Vegas, so this one might work. As a four day show, I'm not sure it will, especially since it starts on Thursday and WCAF ends on Wednesday. I was a featured speaker with The National Conference at WCAF and taught classes on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and also an exhibitor in the EXPO with Society of Gilders. I'll keep my eye on Indio.

Before developing in Florida in 2004, I was considering Indio. I had more western/south western imagery then. But I might be able to make a good go of it with the art we are doing now, anyway. I do have some southwest imagery that is experiencing a long shelf life, so it still appeals to a broad spectrum of people in multiple markets.

And thanks for the interesting perspective on building a presence with paying for multiple booths, Jeff. I don't know if I'll invest that way since I don't have enough art as well as no double booth. Plus I need a roof over my art! 


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