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18th Annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival ( September 22-23, 2012. A nice little show in a nice part of the state. This is the third go round with this show and I'm not disappointed in it. The first year I did this show it was the best show I did that entire year (2010). Having just retired from teaching and wanting to reach into parts of the year that I was unable to apply to due to the regular work schedule. The year after (2011) I did a fourth of the previous years proceeds. This year (2012) my net proceeds were up 13% from the first go round! This is definitely a show with ongoing potential in my book. Besides which, I garnered the "Outstanding Photographer" award this year! No real money but a nice gift certificate for framing from The Affordable Framing Co. (No I didn't get paid for the endorsement just thought it would be nice to mention them!)

Show Organizer/Promoter: Durango Arts Center

Booth Fee: $30 Jury Fee, $300 Booth Fee. Apply for State of CO Special Event Sales Tax License separately. City of Durango Sales Tax Form included, no extra costs (unlike AZ!)

Logistics: Check in for this show is from 4-7 the Friday night prior to the show. The Arts Center always hosts a nice dinner, provided by volunteers, along with check-in and this year it was even nicer than last years! They're some of the nicest people and are really eager to put on a nice show and demonstrate their appreciation of the artists.

Load-in is the only down side to this show. You have to be there at 6:30 AM (in the dark, and its chilly) to set up as the city doesn't close the streets till then. I finally brought headlamps as the street lights are not sufficient for at least the first hour.

Parking, there are numerous city lots adjacent to the show and I've never had a bad spot yet! If you need to get inventory you're only a few steps away, you just have to jump the barricades! 

Load-out is just as easy as getting in or maybe even easier as we moved the barricades and walked the stuff over to the van. We usually pack everything before loading and were out of there in about 2 hours which is our usual best time.

Show Hours: The show runs from 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. It probably could have ended at 4 on Sunday as most artists were visiting with each other by then.

Amenities: Show volunteers come around with water and whatever was left over from dinner the night before usually ends up in an artists hospitality area at the historic Rochester Hotel.

Demographics: The show had a nice broad range with people in all age ranges buying. This has not been my experience at other shows. No popcorn at this show!

Food: Not so much that people get lost, just enough for some variety and it keeps the people there, besides which the show is one block up the hill from the main business district of Durango so there is much variety there. The artist next to us found a funky little hole-in-the-wall The Durango Dawg House ( the current owner bought the business within the last year, he hails from back east, and is happy that he is reaching his income projections. They serve a mean dog anyway you like it!

Reflections: The people of Durango that attend the show and Arts Center staff really show their appreciation for the artists. Board members come around and introduce themselves, etc. I like the fact that the show is small (less then 80 artists) and brings in some of the best artists in this part of the world that I've run into at other shows. Fred Prescott was there and I saw him at Cottonwood as well, George Coll is a great painter who also was at Cottonwood. The music is a nice accompaniment to the show with just the right flavor and never so overpowering that you can't hear yourself think. Of the 80 artists 15 were jewelers which I thought was a little on the heavy side for one medium but all the others were well balanced.

I would definitely do this show again if I'm invited. Not that far a drive from Denver (about 6-7 hours depending on how long your lunch and comfort stops are). You can find some reasonable places to stay. We stayed at the Knights Inn this year as the Super 8 raised their prices by $20 from last year! As it is a 2 day show I only had to stay in lodging for 2 nights unlike shows that are further afield.

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Comment by Connie Mettler on October 30, 2012 at 5:02pm

Nice report, Brian. Thanks. Sounds like a show worth doing and goes to prove that the events put on by art centers are often the best ones. Why do you think this one is so good? Are there other art fairs in the area throughout the year? Or maybe, an "underserved" area? What a pleasure that would be. Was this a "one-off"? or did you link it with another one while you were out on the road?

That has to be a beautiful drive from Denver also. Glad to hear you are enjoying and making your post-teaching years work for you.

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