I mentioned when I checked in to the Bonita Springs Art Festival on Friday that "doing this show is like going to grandma's house.  It's warm, comfortable, and you know just what to expect." 

Nothing I experienced in the next two days shook me from that state of mind.  I found the second installment of Barry Witt's 3-show event to be just about everything I could hope for:  Beautiful weather, knowledgeable crowds (tainted only by the see-'em-at-every-show Sunday morning sleepwalkers--what is it with that, anyway?) and what Nels Johnson calls the "good shoes" people.  The crowds were far from elbow-to-elbow at any time, but in general they were motivated to buy/ And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing!

So, where to start?  First of all, the pre-show communication is brief, but to the point: You have all the essential information via email and the website two weeks before the show--all but your booth location, which is given to you upon arrival.  It would be nice to have it in advance, but Witt compensates by giving you a booth near your previous location, even if your previous location was at last year's show. So my customers from 2013 and 2014 had no difficulty locating me.  Nice!

Then, there's the matter of the layout in general:  Centered along "Old 41 Road", which spurs off the heavily trafficked US 41 several miles to the west, the show takes place in Riverside Park, in "Old (read: Historical) Bonita Springs."  Some artists, myself included, are along the Old 41business district; others are set up a block in either direction along two or three perpendicular streets.  Still others are set up in Riverside Park itself, a very pleasant, verdant couple of acres on the NW side of the show.  Although the booth numbering is a bit confusing, IMHO, volunteers hand out a nicely designed map to all show-goers (who pay a $5 optional donation to the Bonita Springs Art League when they arrive.)

Artist parking is in several lots directly adjacent to the show.  Accordingly, load-in and load-out were easy-peasy.  I was set up in two hours on Friday; torn down, packed up, and on my way in two hours on Super Bowl Sunday.  It was a relaxed vibe throughout the show.  No boothsitters, but no hassles setting up or tearing down, either.  Breakfast was provided both days until about 9:30 at the artist check-in building at the north end of the show grounds. 

As for sales: I was busy enough that I didn't have a ton of time to canvas many other artists, but from what I observed, sales were OK for most, lousy for a few, great for some others.  I know that's not all that helpful, but hopefully others will chime in with their results.  I did a bit over 2.2K on the weekend, and had an appointment on Tuesday morning that netted me another $1500, so it was a fine event for me.  Gallery Wraps (large ones) sold well. 

I loved the Sunday-afternoon buying energy, and overall, I liked the crowd.  And the judging, in my view, was superb: A photographer up the street from me won best 2D, and his work was other-worldly.  I've never seen anything like it!

Have all the show-goers from the old venue at The Promenade made the jump to the two-year-old location at  Riverside Park?  I don't know, but the borough, Witt, and the ominpresent-but-understated police force certainly made this an appealing venue.  I am looking forward to the third installment in March!

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  • Hi, and sorry I missed you! I was down by Shear Unity, almost at the south end of the show on Old 41 Road.  I forgot to mention the Super Bowl, and I didn't eat at any of the nearby restaurants because I live so close to the show location. 

  • Great review Geoff, had I known that you were there I would have stopped and said hello. This was our first tine in Bonita Springs. Coming from Melbourne it was a 3 1/2 hr. drive and we were lucky enough to reserve a room at the Hampton Inn, $119/nt. (the show special) only 2 miles from the show. Our booth was located back in the park on the grass, beautiful location. The weather was beautiful, Barry and the staff were very friendly. Easy load and pack out. Sales were great on Saturday, however I believe the Super Bowl probably took a toll on the crowds on Sunday. The good news was there were educated buyers both days and our sales were all on the high end. It was a very nice weekend, loved the area and the show. We stayed an extra day and drove down to Naples before we left. FYI the whole area has an abundance of wonderful restaurants. I hope that we'll be invited back next year to participate in one of Barry's shows in the area. 

  • This sounds like such a great show.  Wish I had been there.

  • Sorry for the delay.  Post Festival keeping me busy.  Awards posted.

    As for hotels, yes a bit pricey.  We do send all accepted artists a listing of hotels that give a discount to our artists.  Obviously, first come basis when it comes to booking rooms.  It is "high season" in our area.

    Quote from an artist who has done 19 of our festivals in Bonita:

    "Barry - best show ever in Bonita last week end. Better than the "old" location! Looking forward to March - if possible can I be placed in the same location?..."

  • The worst person to ask for lodging accommodations is the person who lives there. :-)  We stay at home! So truly, I don't know. 

    If Barry doesn't post the prize winners by tomorrow night, I will.  I've got 'em somewhere. . . it's just a lot of typing

  • I am so glad for you (and Barry Witt too) that this move has worked out for this show. I know there was a lot of gnashing of teeth last year when it moved. Sounds like Barry has done a great job of ferreting out a good location and bringing in the buyers. Kudos.

    Usually he posts the prize winners here, (oh Barry, where are you?) and they are a group of some of the best people in this business. 

    I believe you live near, but where do the artists stay? The last time we were in Naples we paid big $$$ for a not great place. Any tips on that?

  • Thanks for another great review, Geoff...it really sounds like they're doing something right in Bonita Springs.

  • Geoff - thanks for the review. We did the January show (in the park) and it was great. Good buying energy both days. We had decided that the Jan./ Feb. show was too close to try again but it sounds like it wasn't. We'll be back in March. See you there!
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