Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
This show has always been at the mercy of the springtime weather, being held the weekend before the Kentucky Derby. Some years the weather is balmy, sunny, and warm; sometimes cool and damp, sometime cold with frost on the grass in morning and needing space heaters. Sometimes, like this time around it was cool and rainy with the emphasis on rainy. Saturday was rainy most of the day with deserted aisles except for a few moments when the rain and drizzle stopped. Sunday had about half a day without rain and the customers came out. At the end of the day, it stopped raining, the sun came out, and we were able to clear out without getting rained on. My sales were proportional to the amount of time when it didn't rain, and all I did was break even. Regardless, I'll try it again as this is normally one of my better shows and the weather is better more often than not.
The show is a long standing one, and one which I've done for over twenty years. it's put on by a neighborhood association staffed by volunteers who have the organization of the show down pretty well. It was only within the last couple of years that the show has gone to ZAPP, as it was by word of mouth before. It started off with slide entries, and after slide projectors became hard to locate, they used print submissions for several years. Eventually, the hassle of wading through all the paper apps was too much and they signed with ZAPP.
Set up is on a Friday, starting at noon although several were already set up by that time. There are four lines of booths in the show for a bit over 200 artists. Two rows face each other across a narrow service road paralleled to a boulevard. One of those rows is on a sidewalk with about one foot of your booth in front of the sidewalk with a dropoff of several inches. Shim blocks are almost a universal requirement at this show. These sidewalk booths stay relatively dry during rain, but there is little storage room behind you unless there is an open retaining wall behind you. Several spots have walkways between them for resident's front door sidewalks, and you can stash some things there, space permitting. This section has issues with limited access for some patrons as there is a stone curb to step up on, and a sloping grassy strip that turns to mud quickly with foot traffic.
Two rows of booths are on grass, on a grassy median that is about 30 feet wide that separates the service road from the boulevard. These spaces are easier to access, and in most cases a wheel chair could be pushed into the booth space. However, set up can be a hassle as most of these spaces are on a horizontal incline side to side as the street runs downhill. In addition the median has a crown, so you are contending with a tilt in two axes. I use 2x8x10' boards to mount the tent legs on and shim like crazy. facing the rear of the tent, my right side front tent leg has to be shimmed up about 6 inches to be level front to back. The left side of the tent has to jump over a pile of mulch next to a tree, and since that side of the space is even lower, it needs almost ten inches of shimming to be level with the back and the other side.
The grassy median has a row of tents on the other side and the crown is even more pronounced over there with well over a foot drop off from the middle to the street. I find it expedient to get there early, set up the booth, and put up a closed in extension to the booth that is about 3 1/2 deep so I can have a place to sit behind the booth, stash tubs, and stay dry in case of rain. If I don't show up early to claim the space, neighbors behind me will frequently crowd in as far as possible to avoid the slope in front of their space. In the past when I showed up later, I've had less than a foot of space behind me as the neighbors move backwards in search of level ground. Far easier to get there early, set up, and have the space already occupied.
The row across the boulevard is much more level, and on a wider sidewalk, but has the issue of too much room between the facing two rows so people tend to walk further out and not get as close. I've often wondered why the show doesn't just move everything into the wider street as the room is enough, although that would make traffic tougher at set up and tear down.
The show had excellent musicians that could clearly be heard but not too loud around most of the tents. A nice feature for the artists on Friday set up was dollar brats and $2 draft beer after 6:00 PM. Port-a-Pots are plentiful and kept clean, This year the washing stations were replaced by hand sanitizer stations which I supposed cut down on paper towel waste. I still prefer soap and water, but those ran out in past years.
The weather impacted the show badly this year, and that's just the roll of the dice in this business. Show times were 10-6 both days, and I feel that ending at 5 on Sunday is a better bet. Normally everyone waits until 6 before you start hearing the sound of metal pipes hitting the pavement, but this year there were enough disgruntled artists that the sound of tubular bells started around 5:30 and by 5:45 you started seeing artists dollying boxes out of the show.