Well, what the hell.
Imagine the finest weather ever at this show in 25 years of doing it.
Then imagine having the absolute worst sales, having people walk by not going in or looking in five seconds, then moving on.
So this is a three day show, so was my previous one. That one, I killed them. This one I barely made expenses.
I gotta drop this show. Wrong market for my work now.
That said, it was a money-maker for many.
Let me tell you about it.
SETUP AND LAYOUT.
This show is held at Coney Island Amusement Park. On the Ohio river, a major humidifier.
Three days with a Thursday setup, can do Friday setup. Show starts at noon, lasts til 7 pm.
Sat. Hours 10-7, Sun. 10-5
Most booths are on grass with plenty of room for rear storage. The show is a confusing layout, easy to get lost.
This year they added nearly 100 booths for a 350 total. Too large, greedy promoters.
Easy setup and teardown. Nice snacks for artists and lunches can be ordered.
Boothsitters available. Overall a well run show.
SALES AND CROWDS.
We had really cool weather this year. I wore my vest and long sleeved wool shirt most of the show.
Usually you roast at this show. We escaped rain all days. This was the nicest weather for this show. I have done this show maybe 20 times since the late eighties.
Usually this is a $4-6K show for me and others. This year was El stinko, I did not come close to $3K. I never sold one 16x20 framed photo ($200). All sales came out of my browse bins where prices ranged $40-$95.
This was mostly a Walmart crowd, they dressed casually and bought very Lowend.
Also they were not that well informed about art.
I had to explain about how my images were made on metal. They acted like they had not seen this before.
Crowds down my way were very thin until about noon, then sales started happening but tapered off by 3pm. Lots of quiet time with nobody even looking in the booth.
Most of the time people just walked down the middle of the aisle without even looking at the art. Why were they there?
My neighbor to the right had a fabulous show. She did painting using repurposed canvas that was originally used for circus banners.
She painted layers of white paint to create a new canvas.
Then she painted her versions of classic circus scenes like voodoo women and snake charmers. She sold one original for well over $4K.
Most of her sales came from repros priced $40-$125. She killed and got a nice award. She will be back.
A great many sales at the show came from Art on the Stick. Plenty of booths doing this.
This is a crafty show as opposed to fine art. Saw very few of the latter go by me.
Another near neighbor had a fab show selling his wood crafted lawn furniture. He is a longtime vet and always does well.
I would say if you do crafts and are moderately priced, and live within a six hour drive this is a great show to do.
For fine art it is a crapshoot.
My new work was mainly ignored. This does not happen to me at most shows. Cinnci is not my market anymore until I change.
I am going to give this show a rest for now.
I hope I did not sound too negative. This show was very good for about 40 per cent of artists.
I just think it is too big, they cannot support 350 artists.
Love to hear some feedback.
Sort of late to respond to this, but better late than never. I don't have nearly the years of doing Summerfair, but the days of photography doing well there seem to have passed, or at least for me. I did it several times many years ago and did okay for the times. Didn't get back in for a few years and quit trying. I did it again about 3-4 years ago, and was stuck off in a crap location with a fence behind me next to an unused gate of some sort. I had the same experience with few people strolling past and even fewer coming into the booth. My sales sucked and I took a loss. Won't ever return as the chances of a lousy location are too high. I've long since decided my best shows are the ones with 80-120 artists that are put on by a local artist organization. When it gets too large, it becomes an entertainment venue or a place to walk your dog.
Oh, and to give you an idea of how low the traffic volume was, on a Saturday I was carrying several things out and spaced out leaving the camera bag beside the booth. It was still there the next day.
Another theory for the slow sales: could be a sign of the times.
Consumer sentiment has fallen off a cliff:
I'm always the contraian but my sales are better than last shows I did in 2019 (COVID gap). Good sales are medium specific IMHO. My functional art of plain and hand carved leather has always sold well. Folks are tired of cheap Walmart belts and they are always loosing or gaining weight. I'm always punching holes in belts folks boutght years ago and then they get a new one. One wall of my booth is 80% holsters and hunting gun leathers. I am suprised by the "soccer mom" packing a Glock in her purse and leather is certainly classier than Chinese nylon. Last show Memorial Day, two guys bought historic rpeoduction Cheyenne and Mexican double loop, floral carved holsters over $200 each. for large revolvers ("six guns"). Hand gun sales were up during COVID. Maybe there is a different consumer sentiment out west here in CO.
Nice review Nels! You confirmed some of my reservations I had of the show and provided good insight as to whether I will apply next year. Hopefully you rocked it this week in Columbus (I'm assuming you were there) and will look forward to that review. I will submit a review later this week of Chagrin Falls which I just returned from.
I appreciate the review, Nels.
Summerfair 2022 was my first big show so I don't have much to compare it to. In speaking with other artists, the feeling reflected much of what you said - mostly slow, but a few with good sales.
What you said about "Lots of quiet time with nobody even looking in the booth" and "Most of the time people just walked down the middle of the aisle without even looking at the art" was my experience.
My work is photography and it's not large, flashy, shiny, spectacular stuff. It's traditionally presented and it's more subtle. I don't do landscapes and wildlife (nothing wrong with those genres but there's just too much of it).
I'm thinking maybe I need more of an arty crowd. My wife made an interesting observation. The very first show I did (August 2019) was a small show in a small, arty town. She noticed that there was much more engagement with my work at that small show than there was at this Summerfair.
And by the way, Nels, it wasn't until after the show was over that I was looking over the list of attending artists that I saw you were there. I was kicking myself because I had intended to look at that list earlier and go meet some AFI'ers, including you. But I didn't think you'd be there since you not too long ago said "I would go to [Kalamazoo] over Cincinnatti Summerfaire any day."
Nice review. What is "Art on the Stick" ? asking for a friend out west.
Art on the stick is some arty creation put on a metal Rod that can be stuck in the ground.
example_ a bronze dragonfly fixed atop A metal Rod for $19.
There were tons of this kind art at the show