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Art on the Commons, Kettering, Ohio 8/14/2016

Last year was the first time I tried this show. It wasn't spectacular but there was a decent return for the effort and sales were worthwhile enough to make a return trip.

It's a one day show put on by the local arts organization in conjunction with the city government. the show is arranged around a large fountain in a city park. You have to dolly in from the street, but there are two one way streets either side of the venue, so it's not difficult and it's on concrete all the way.

Set up is on Sunday morning starting at 7:00 but when I arrived there at that time, probably half of the show tents were already up. Probably anticipating rain. More on that sad story in a moment. Show times run 11 to 5, tear down to follow immediately and vehicles could be brought in at 5:15.

The staff was great to work with and lots of volunteers are available to help out who also circulated around constantly.

Some spaces are short on storage space behind the booth, but generally there is enough if you scoot your booth out a little. It's a good sized show, but not large with about a hundred artists there.

Last year was warm, hot at times, but very well attended and sales were brisk last year. The monsoons hit this year, and hit with a vengeance. We had just got a double booth put up and side tarps attached, and had dollied in the tubs and propanels when the rains hit. It continued raining until 3:00 with only temporary respites. A couple of the young volunteers, young ladies of about 20-22 years old, gave up on trying to keep dry and dropped their shoes off and were spotted dancing in the rain :-)

The rain came down heavy and a community group across from me had an inexpensive pop up tent that collected water badly on top. Too late they tried to take the corner down to drain the large pool up there and used a pole to try and push the top up and off, but pushed the wrong direction. There was a loud "snap" and the thing collapsed into a pile of broken struts. Another artist was seen using an umbrella to push water out of the EZ-Up they had about every couple of minutes.

We knew the probability of rain was high for the day, about 80%. I didn't expect much traffic and was correct. I was surprised to hear from the few fair-goers (notice I'm not saying customers) that anywhere from 20 to 25% of the artists didn't show. I walked around a few times, saw some folks I knew and also got to see Kathy Oda from South Carolina.

However, it came down to this, there was only about an hour and a half where there was anything like a crowd coming through, and that was after 3:00 until 4:30, and the show creaked to a wet and soggy ending. End result was I sold zip and nada. Lots of talkers, gave out cards to some folks who were looking to decorate further down the road. needless to say it was very disappointing, but I wouldn't have gone out myself on a day like that.

The staff did come around and pass out disposable rain ponchos which were appreciated. One wag suggested we looked like giant Trojans wearing those things. They didn't help much as you sweated so badly under them that you were drier standing in the rain.

I'll try the show again next year as I don't think anyone did very well, and I certainly didn't see packages being carried around very often. The woodworker next to me sold a couple of pieces so they were happy that they made some money, and a glass worker a few more booths down sold a couple of pieces, but that was about it. Maybe someone else from the other side of the show did well and they can contribute to this rainy day tale of woe. Sometimes these things are a crap shoot, and the weather rolled snake eyes for us. The only saving grace was that the rain stopped at 3:00 and we were able to pack up with no rain. 

Now it's time to clean up and get ready for the Lexington Woodland show with more predictions of bad weather for next weekend, and topping that off is with the rainy weather we'll have to dolly in from the street and across wet soggy ground.

Here's a moment when the rain wasn't coming down quite so hard.



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Comment by Robert Wallis on August 18, 2016 at 3:36pm
I hope I'm not giving the impression to avoid the show in the future as I feel this year was a weather aberration and not typical. It's a 2 hour drive for me but I intend to apply again next year.
Comment by Connie Mettler on August 18, 2016 at 1:59pm

I lived in Dayton, once upon a time, and Kettering is a nice settled area with older homes and one would hope "grown ups" who get the arts. I certainly can see giving this one day show a try just on those merits, if you live near enough. Thanks for the review, Robert.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 18, 2016 at 12:08am

I've not done too well with wait-listing the last year or so. I'm currently on the photography wait list at Upper Arlington on Labor Day, but at the initial spot of 4th on the list I'm not expecting anything. That was one of the best one-day shows, outside of Penrod, that I've done.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on August 17, 2016 at 6:45pm

I've done this show several times and always did very well.  We were out of the area the past 2 years.  This year I was wait-listed, but they had no cancellations.  Now, I'm not sorry!  It is a very long day coming from Indianapolis to begin set-up at 7 AM.  I was also impressed by the organization of the volunteers. 

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 17, 2016 at 2:21pm


Last year was a decent year also. I'm just amazed how much the weather affected it. The rain was really terrible from about 8:30 onwards until almost 3:00. If I was planning to attend as a patron, I would have serious doubts about going out in rain like that. I'll try it again next year if accepted.

I asked the show coordinator if there was any chance of either having Saturday afternoon set up or possibly making it a two day show. The answer was no to both cases. The busy schedule of the site precludes any extra time for either set up as there is a Saturday concert that runs late into the evening and the two day possibility has been turned down several times in the past. Unfortunately, that's the risk with one-day shows; if the weather is bad, there is no recovery for a second day.

Comment by Judy Christian on August 17, 2016 at 10:24am

Hi Robert,

I have done this show a few times around 2006-07 or so. It was a decent one day show.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on August 17, 2016 at 9:02am

Thanks, Robert, it does look like a beautiful setting for an art show, too bad about the rain though. Glad to hear that despite everything, you may give it another go next year...wishing you better weather in shows to come.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 16, 2016 at 9:23pm

I forgot to mention that the people standing in the rain are some of the volunteers. A few moments earlier they were doing a Gene Kelly imitation of "Singin' in the Rain". I could have used a dose of that energy during teardown.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 16, 2016 at 7:19pm

That was the entrance to the show. There's a fountain inside the pond. The pond was  sort of like two squares offset from each other and joined together. It's actually a nice setting. Just not that day :-( The Lexington show has a lower % of rain on Saturday but a high probability on Sunday.

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on August 16, 2016 at 7:04pm

Robert, that hardly looks like an art show.  It also looks like you were situated around a pond.  Is that the fountain?

I sure hop your Lexington show makes up for this one.

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