Art Fair Insiders

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

College Hill Arts Festival- Shade and Sales

The College Hill Arts Festival is a Friday, Saturday show in Cedar Falls IA the third weekend in June. I have been told about this show for years and it finally fit into my schedule AND I finally got accepted (wait listed last year) I arrived Thursday night with a welcoming hail storm but once the skies cleared set up was easy.  It looked like most artists had set up before the storm (4:00 start for set up).  I waited out the storm for two hours and then was able to get my tent and display up by 9:00pm.  Luckily it didn't get too muddy in the park even with people driving on the grass.  There were nice drivable paths through the park so mostly driving on the grass could be avoided.  

The setting for this show is really perfect- lots of trees and shade.  It's a small show with only 75 booths.  The layout it mostly in rows with another section that makes a semi circle.  I was in the semicircle which one might worry could be missed but this was not the case at all.  The spaces are big- 14X16 so basically everyone could have a corner if you set it up right. 

The weather ended up holding for the whole weekend.  Rain only started up on Friday night after the show closed at 8:00.  I stayed with a host family which was a great deal- FREE!  They were very friendly and had fun cats.  They came out on Friday night and told me crowds were down from most years.  This could have been caused by worries of rain.  There was a dinner for the artists after the show with VERY good food plus wine and beer.  The artists I talked to said they had a slow Friday, some which said they were busy only until 1:00.  Personally I had a very steady day with over $1000 in sales.  

On Saturday the crowds were out early and stuck all day.  I talked to a few artists that said their sales were down from years past but my Saturday was great with sales in all my price ranges- $2 to $400.  I also was very pleased to receive one of 5 Awards of excellence.  Very exciting!

I also love that this show has a handful of great family fun art activities- a kid's purchasing booth with donated items, an instrument zoo (which was right behind me but not as annoying as you might think which people trying out all the instruments from the orchestra) and a chalk drawing.

The artist hospitality house was also very nice.  I only made it there in the morning each day but there wasdoughnuts, bagels, and fruit.  I also appreciated the "on call" booth sitters.  I think they got a little busy on Saturday and I didn't get them to come that day but with indoor bathrooms not too far away in one of the buildings I was fine to sneak away.  And parking for artists was a lot only a block away (free!).  

Oh and their patron program seems to work well.  I had one purchase from that.  I feel like this show has figured a lot out and they really know what they are doing.  I hope that Saturday sales picked up for the artists I talked to.  It seemed like people were carrying around a lot of art from my point of view.  My neighbors nearly sold out of their amazing windmills.  

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Comment by Connie Mettler on June 29, 2017 at 9:56am

and then you are "their artist" and they come to see you at the show and bring their friends ... it is a great way to become part of the local communities even for a brief period.

Comment by Layl McDill on June 28, 2017 at 5:10pm
From Minneapolis it's only about 3 1/2 hours. And yes I would love to see more shows offering hosting by locals. This is the first time I did it and it was great. I know some artists don't want to deal with the social aspect but for me I enjoy meeting the locals and getting more insight into the community.
Comment by Connie Mettler on June 28, 2017 at 11:01am

I've heard so little about this show over the years, although I've met Mary Sue at show directors conferences. This sounds just terrific. Shows that have the insight to help artists with expenses (and the staff to make it happen) by providing home stay opportunities really get it. How long a drive was this for you?

Comment by Christina L. Towell on June 24, 2017 at 1:29pm

Thanks, appreciate it!

Comment by Layl McDill on June 23, 2017 at 2:48pm
Sure here it is:
Comment by Christina L. Towell on June 23, 2017 at 9:04am

Enjoyed your thoughts on this show, Layl, glad it was a profitable one for you.  It certainly sounds like they're doing something right in Cedar Falls.  I'd like to add them to the AFI data base but can't find an email address, do you happen to have one?  Appreciate it, thanks.

Comment by Britt Hallowell on June 21, 2017 at 1:45pm
Thanks for the review, I'll add this show to my list to research!

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