Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Note: I reviewed this show a year ago. Rather than rewrite half of the review, I'm providing a link here.
Howard Alan Events' Coconut Point "New Year's Weekend" art festival is a traditional kickoff to the winter season for Florida-based and snowbird artists alike. In contrast with last year's show, which seemed to encounter some buying doldrums among the populace, this year's show had pretty heavy traffic and sales on Saturday. Sunday's feeding frenzy never marterialized, partly because of the weather front that moved through around 8:30 AM, bringing high winds, and partly the local weathercasts, which tend to scare the bejezus out of the locals every time it looks like winds might kick up or showers threaten to make folks turn on their windshield wipers. (Note to residents and forecasters: Hurricane Season ended on December 1. Take a deep breath, already!!!!)
If I seem testy about this, it's understandable: Saturday put me on pace for a record Coconut Point show, and I wasn't happy that, at least until 3 PM Sunday , crowds were less than a quarter what they had been on Day One. I was sitting at about $150 for the day until some late-day return customers dropped a few dimes and made it a decent day and show, if not a gangbusters one. Other artists I polled reported about the same result: A solid paycheck for most (especially large-scale 2-D artists--a trend we noticed last year). The jewelers I spoke with did OK to pretty well, and several said they appreciated that the show wasn't overloaded with their category. Show quality was strong, and I did notice a lot of newer artists this year...or at least, artists I hadn't seen at other Florida HAE shows. This is an affluent area, worth the $395 booth fee, and folks didn't seem afraid to spend, nor did they ask for discounts.
Howard Alan is known for thorough advertising/marketing, and he outdid himself with this show. For example: As a local, I subscribe to the "digital edition" of the Fort Myers News-Press, and every day in the week before the show, the paper's "top 5 stories" email included an ad for the show. There was a heavily-promoted free drawing, Pinterest boards, and TV advertising...including early morning standups by each of the three TV news stations. Don't know how an artist could ask for more.
Setup on Friday is a piece o'cake: Good directions to the site, a quick check-in, and well-marked spaces set, in Howard Alan style, nearly pole to pole but with lots of space behind for storage. Tear-down on Sunday went smoothly, but it requires patience: The artist parking is about a six-minute walk, at the far reaches of the movieplex parking lot. (There's an artist shuttle running in the morning, but not during breakdown.) You could bring your vehicle near the perimeter of the show site at 5 PM, if you could find a spot (it's a VERY busymall), but a pass certifying that you had broken down your display was required to drive in front of your booth for loading.
I was in a row conveniently situated along the edge of the show, and it was fine with HAE if we parked in the lot closest to the backside of our booth when the show closed, instead of joining a queue of vehicles to drive to the front side, as usual. So we did...and although it required a bit of schlepping and dollying and patience (while awaiting a parking spot), things went smoothly and I was on the road by 7:30.
I'm almost sorry I won't be attending the second installment of this show, on Valentine's Day weekend. (I decided to try my hand at the Bonita Springs National instead, a few miles away, same weekend.) Let's hope there are enough art buyers to make both shows thrive, and that another AFI reader will step up and review the February show.