Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Cleveland Caravan: Willoughby, Medina, Akron, Lakewood and Chardon, OH (+Cain Park)

We hear a good deal about the national shows and I have written a few reviews this year, but there are a good many smaller local shows in our communities that have long successful histories. I would like to focus on a few from the Cleveland area. These are the mom-and-pop shows that have dedicated volunteers, who want nothing more than to bring good art to their communities. They have volunteered their time year after year for decades. I think of Jo-Ann Rettig-Rau, the chair of Medina's Arts in the Park. Jo-Ann, who at nearly 70 years young, has been chairing the Medina show for decades. Or Karen Cooper, chair of the Lakewood Arts Festival will step down from Chair this year after 20 years of service to her community. These local art festival organizers and hundreds like them are the unsung heroes in our business.

For the last four years I have spent the middle of July to August in the Cleveland, OH area, participating in a series of local shows. Some are one day shows that are scheduled back to back: Willoughbv ArtFest on Saturday and Medina Art in the Park on Sunday; Lakewood Art Fesitval on Saturday and Chardon Art Festival on Sunday while others like the Akron Art Expo are weekend affairs. To the artists who travel on this caravan, it's a marathon.

The Cleveland Shows are not usually high grossing shows for me, but with little expenses, it's all about the net and these shows are solid. At the Lakewood Show last year I grossed 3K... a 1 day event, not bad! I even saw a big smile on Nels face after he finished the Lakewood show last year. Usually the gross is in the 2K range for the one day shows and less for Akron. That said, several of the Cleveland Shows were down for me this year by 30-50%, the exceptions being Boston Mills and Chagrin Falls... these were up (reviews written earlier). Of course someone always does well at every show. I spoke to a photographer this year after the Medina show and she was very happy... grossing nearly 5K in one day. Booth fees at these shows are modest, $100 to $200 and jury fees are $10 to $25 so it is easy to recoup expenses.

What is consistently remarkable about these shows is how well supported they are by their communities. Pictured above is the Medina show this year. It is packed with patrons for most of the day and the same is true for Lakewood and Willoughby. (Akron is probably the weakest link in the series.) These are local folks, some are wealthy, but most are from the struggling middle class. They have to think hard about any purchase. I can not help but feel honored when they select any of my works.

Quality of the art? Well it's all over the place, something for everyone from amazing art to not-so-amazing. You kind of go into these shows knowing this. When you do a series of local shows with the same artist, you can't help but build friendships with many. They too do national shows and travel quite a bit, but elect to do some art shows in their community to support the local efforts there. I have been fortunate to develop such good friendships with some these amazing artists.

Well it's back on the road again in a few weeks. I hope to be seeing some of you. Cheers!

P.S. Linnea Lahlum (a.k.a. workaholic or is that chocoholic) sorry I didn't get a chance to stop by your booth at Lakewood.

Views: 548

Comment by Nels Johnson on August 10, 2010 at 5:53pm
Great report Leo, thanks for sharing, will see you down the road soon, or later, nels.
Comment by Diane Wright on August 10, 2010 at 7:05pm
Thanks for this report. I live in Pittsburgh and I am always looking for good shows that are not too big or too expensive that are within a comfortable radius. I will be looking into these shows.
Comment by Jennifer Frantz on August 11, 2010 at 6:55am
Diane, can you recommend any shows around the Pittsburgh area?
Comment by Larry Berman on August 11, 2010 at 7:34am
The amount of shows in the Pittsburgh area are fewer. Three Rivers the first two weeks of June, Shadyside with Howard Alan the end of August and a new Shadyside show in May, and Fair in the Park in Mellon Park second weekend of September put on by the Craftsman Guild.

Larry Berman
Digital J u r y Services

Comment by Diane Wright on August 11, 2010 at 9:10am
I do mostly indie type shows. Many are in Ohio. My Pa shows include The Conneaut Art Fair, The Southside Works Show (, CraftsN'At (, Handmade Arcade, Wild Winds in Warren, Pa, & Covered Bridge (Ebezer Bridge) in Washington, Pa. I also belong to Pittsburgh Craft Collective and Steel Town Etsy which also have listings of shows in the area. Are you in Pa or Oh?
Comment by Larry Berman on August 11, 2010 at 10:42am
I keep looking for this thread in the art fair discussion forum.

Here's a link to more Cleveland area shows:

Larry Berman
Digital J u r y Services
Comment by Leo Charette on August 11, 2010 at 10:59am
Hi Larry,

Thanks for the added link on Cleveland shows.

I'm a little puzzled by your comment:
"I keep looking for this thread in the art fair discussion forum."

Are you saying that this Blog should have been posted in the discussion section instead of as a blog? To be honest, I find the organizational structure of this site to be somewhat confusing. What is the difference between "Art Fair Discussion" and "Art Show Information" and why is this blog section called "Art Show Reviews & Blogs"? It seems equally confusing to others as I'm finding more and more questions about shows here rather than in the discussion areas.

Comment by Larry Berman on August 11, 2010 at 11:06am
The difference is that when someone starts a thread on the forum, every one knows and answers can come faster because you can subscribe to new threads. When someone starts a blog, no one knows unless they happen to check the page.

There are two different forums about art show information yet some people start threads here about art shows and some start threads on the forum.

The web site and Connie benefit because there are twice as many pages being indexed by the search engines, but from a logical point of view, everything posted as a blog could be easily posted to the forum.

Larry Berman
Digital J u r y Services
Comment by john gulyas and maryann posch on August 11, 2010 at 12:25pm
We did all the shows discussed here-they are consistent and solid, sometimes really good I live in the greater Cleve. area I don't know if they are worth the trip for out of towners. I have been doing shows in this area for over 25 yrs so I have alot of repeat customers
Comment by Connie Mettler on August 11, 2010 at 1:07pm
1. Leo, this is a great post. Even artists that do mostly the big shows like to "fill in" with smaller shows, for all the reasons you discussed. I'd like to see even more posts like this for regional events from others.

2. Just wondering, we always went to the Cleveland area to do the Cain Park Arts one reports on this show which was always a solid event with well-educated patrons and dedicated staff (like those you mentioned above). Any input on this one?

3. As the instigator of this site and its navigation and categories, posts, blogs and discussions, I have tried to make it useful and also to bring the disparate elements into practical categories that make better sense to all. I am totally open to overall revamping or smaller structural revisions. Maybe I'll start a discussion on the topic! How's that for a good idea.


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