Art Fair Insiders

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ArtFair Outsider; Auditing the Golden Fine Arts Festival 2012

I was called off the wait list for this show just this Monday and if I hadn't made other plans already for the weekend probably would have dropped everything and gone. Apparently I wasn't the only one called off the wait list as there were other spots that had to be filled. As it was I had finished my morning plans and decided to audit the show and see what all the bru-ha-ha was about. It has been generating some local buzz. The show is only about 25 miles from where I live and its doesn't take long to get there, besides the drive is pleasant if you take the back way. By the way Golden, CO is home to the original Coors Brewery, stop in for some free suds after a tour!

The last time I visited this show it was held outside of town on a hillside so steep that if you mistakenly let go of the baby stroller you'd be chasing it downhill a long way! Wind, yes, it was so windy on that hillside that the night before my visit half the booths were blown away! Crowds, I wouldn't use that word to describe what I saw that day, a few stragglers perhaps.

Fast forward twelve years, the show is now in its 22nd year and several years ago they moved it into, or at least closer to the historic downtown area of Golden. It is held adjacent to a small park along Clear Creek. As I drove into town I noticed one large banner alongside the road. Not particularly flashy but it was a start. I arrived around 1 pm and started looking for parking nearby. I saw no other indications that the show was happening except for some random people walking around (could they have been art show zombies?) so I stopped into the visitors bureau and asked where the show was. I was directed to cross the nearby bridge on the main street, hang a right and I would be there. There wasn't a lot of signage (except for the farmers market) and I was anticipating a catastrophe. Apparently I was the only one that was clueless as, much to my amazement, the place was teeming with people, so much so, it was hard to get to some of the booths.

First order of business was to check out the quality of goods. I made the rounds of the show, which is about 2-3 blocks long and was generally impressed by the quality represented. With perhaps only 2-3 exceptions I thought that this was a FINE art show. Some of the participants I recognized from last weekends show in Ridgway, some could have been at Cherry Creek (My mind forgets) and others I've rubbed elbows with in Santa Fe, Carefree, Omaha, Tempe, etc. I didn't bother the busy ones but waved as I strolled by if they noticed me. Linda Bachman was there, back up and running, and we visited a bit. They are living in a rental house while theirs is being restored after the fire. Rick was at rental home busily preparing inventory for Port Clinton. Most of their inventory and tools were destroyed by the fire, anything that was bubble wrapped became hermetically sealed as was anything in their trailer and bins from the heat. Anyway she was in good spirits and I really enjoyed seeing her. We compared notes and we'll be doing Castle Rock together the second weekend of Sept. I visited with some other buddies as they got free.

So, the energy of the crowd seemed way above the "Walking Dead" that I've seen at other shows lately but did that seem to translate into sales? Not-so-much, at least not while I was there. Artists were noticeably engaged with the crowd and most booths were full of visitors. Although I saw a large photograph walking out as I was walking in, there wasn't much else moving by unless it might have been jewelry which could secretly walk out in a handbag. I guess we'll have to wait and see if any "Insiders" report on this show.

There were the usual fair-food booths tucked into a side area in the middle of the show so vendors from either end didn't have far to go. What puzzled me was the "Artisans in the Park.  Visitors (had) the opportunity to observe demonstrations by blacksmiths, leather toolers, spinners, and fiber artists." Well these poor folks were behind the regular booths and the food booths so unless you went to look at the river or sit in the park they were so far away I felt bad for them as not so many people went out of their way to see the demonstrations and I'm sure they weren't feeling the love of the crowd that the other vendors felt given the lack of visibility.

Of note was the close in parking, if you were on the N side of 11th street there was parking right behind your booth for many of the vendors. If you were on the S side there was parking right on the side streets adjacent to the neighborhood the show was in. As I left the show I happened to see an artists hospitality suite in one of the store fronts but didn't sneak in to see what they were offering!

As I drove out of Golden I noticed that every block (on each side of the street) had a small stage setup and musicians were performing outside of the regular businesses. Was this a coincidence? Was this orchestrated to take place in conjunction with the Golden Arts Festival? I don't know but in any case I can tell you that the little town of Golden was filled with people. As for signage that I didn't see, on my way out of Golden there was a huge banner hanging on the town archway on the main street that has probably been there for weeks! I'd say it did its job!

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Comment by Annette Piper on August 19, 2012 at 6:19pm

Thanks for the outsiders view Brian - hope we get an insiders view as well :)

Comment by S Brian Berkun on August 19, 2012 at 11:56am

Yes! Close to home, no overnights, etc. It's worth a try!

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on August 19, 2012 at 10:33am

So, after checking things out this year, will you apply to next year's show?

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