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This was the 16th annual Art Market produced by the Art Center of Estes Park.  You can apply to the show on Zapp. The jury fee is $30 and standard booth fee is $300.  The application deadline is the first of March.



Estes Park is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Access from Denver and I-25 is by US-34 through Big Thompson Canyon or US-36 up the St. Vrain River. The St. Vrain and Big Thompson Rivers flooded in the fall of 2013 and evidence of these major floods is still present.  Hwy 34 opened through Big Thompson Canyon Thursday afternoon May 27th after being closed for construction all winter. Check the weather and road reports ( if the weather is bad.  Trail Ridge Road crosses the mountains in the National Park, and the resort areas of Granby, Grand Lake and Winter Park are on the west side.  This year, the road was still closed because of snow.   

“Parks” in Colorado refer to broad intermountain valleys.  You have all probably heard of South Park.  There are also North Park, Middle Park, Allens Park etc.  Estes Park is one of these valleys at an elevation of 7,522’.  Mountain weather can be unpredictable, and this is true of Estes Park.  During the show weekend, Friday was nice for set up.  Saturday was chilly in the high 40s, and with a few sprinkles.  Sunday was warmer.  Monday was warm but the temperature would drop with every cloud that came over. There was a brief rain shower an hour before the show closed, but people were still milling about.

There are many summer homes around Estes Park and in the

foothills.  The area is a destination for metro Denver residents and both national and international tourists.  It is not unusual for tour buses to pull up and unload their passengers at the show, but they are not typically my clients. One can observe many nationalities and hear diverse languages being spoken at this show. Among multigenerational families it was not unusual to see grandpa and grandma in native dress from India and Pakistan. The crowed is definitely middle class, many families with pre-teen kids, lots of dogs, and with a large percent from the Midwest judging from college sweat shirts.



Registration was listed as open at 9:30am Friday but volunteers were there earlier to start check in, which was great. You check in, get your booth assignment, then unload in designated areas on the park perimeter. The procedure, which I like, is to park, unload your stuff, move your vehicle off site, then set up your booth.  There was none of this parking in front of your and your neighbors’ booths while you dink around unloading and setting up for several hours.  There was a designated trailer parking area with a shuttle back to the show.

Take Down was similar.  You paid your taxes and got a loading permit. You took your booth down and then you were allowed to bring your vehicle into a parking area to load your stuff.  There was no congestion created by people parking vehicles in front of their booth site for hours while they took down and loaded. No one had to dolly farther than 40 yards. The late loaders could drive in for loading.  There were lots of volunteers to help with unloading and loading. Booth sitters were available, and there are clean accessible rest rooms in the City Hall.



I have done the Estes Park Art Market in six of the last seven years.  It started out as a solid $2K sales show for me and in my best year sales were a little over $3K.  Therefore I went this year with financial expectations of $3K sales but I missed it by one $50 belt sale. This has plagued me for the last three shows; almost, but not quite.   I still consider it a show I will apply to again.  The crowds were good Saturday and Sunday. Monday was a little slower as people were heading home, but it was still a good day. I had 45 sales and the average sale was $65.58. Individual sales ranged from $3 for a bandana for dogs to $190 for a custom holster order.  I had some returning clients for belts.

There was a good mix of mediums. Wild life photography is popular with western subjects. Photography, 2D and jewelry were the most abundant mediums.  Each year the quality has improved and price points have been higher.   



     The Art Center provided a very thorough pre-show information packet. Besides the usual check in and set up information, there were tips about the weather, wildlife and adjusting to the high altitude. They also provided maps of the Estes Park region.  An artists’ reception was held Saturday night at the Art Center Gallery. There was coffee every morning and booth sitters were available. Food vendors are present. An adjacent restaurant distributed menus and delivered.  There was a silent auction of donated art and a high percentage of artists donate work.

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Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on June 4, 2017 at 11:31am

Hey there, Richard and Kathy--and Jean and John! We had a great time at the show and look forward to being with you folks again soon. Crowds were plentiful and we had a steady stream of people and patrons all day. Even into the closing hour folks were still making their way through the show. There were few lulls in foot traffic.

We had a great booth location and I'm guessing Richard and Kathy feel the same way. Kathy and John were right next to us and Richard and Jean were five booths up from us. Some artists around the show perimeter complained a little, but one of them took it all back by Monday afternoon since his show had picked up by then.

Our art was very well received by everyone. The committee awarded us Best of Show during the artists reception. Our sales weren't as good as I need them to be, and the majority of sales were to Estes Park and other nearby city locals. We came close to selling one of our biggest and most expensive artworks, and I think that the opportunity to sell high end items exists in this market. The show is historically lower end, but as Richard mentioned in his review he sees higher priced items on the rise. He might have been talking about ours, but there were others as well. I did not close a sale for higher priced items, so our sales consisted of repros priced at $100 or less. What is encouraging about this is that our print sales increased by 100 percent. So we sold twice as many as expected.

We did meet some great new people besides Richard, Jean, Kathy, and John. Other artists really greeted us warmly. The committee couldn't have been any more helpful, courteous, and gracious. And plenty of patrons shared plenty in common with us. We're looking forward to coming back to Estes Park in the fall for the September 16-17 show and the Memorial Day show next year.

Expenses can be much higher in the West. Our wheelchair accessible room was awesome, equipped with balcony and fire place and king bed. It cost $725 for four nights, and that includes the $10 per night per pet fee which was $80. We booked the same room for the September event only to learn the base fee for that room then is $229 per night. YIKES! It's only a two day show, so we have three nights in it. We'll stay in Fort Collins on Thursday night at La Quinta Inn and will save about $145 since it's just plain cheaper and pets stay free. I tried booking the La Quinta Inn in Loveland and it's already SOLD OUT. Rocky Mountain National Park is a big draw for tourism.

So come to Estes Park, y'all. Plenty of good restaurants right across the street from the show and shops galore. It's a very beautiful place. Parking is close to the show, too. Very easy to do this show. It just costs more than I'm used to. And if we had won that Best of Show award in Florida, it would have come with 2, 3, 5, 10, or 15K! It isn't like that in shows out West. This show had three awards with prize money of $25, $50, and $100. Painter Randall Spangler won 3rd place, and a jeweler won 2nd, but I can't remember his name.

All in all we're delighted with Estes Park and look forward to our next show there. WOOHOO!

Comment by Kathy Winterburn on June 2, 2017 at 1:53pm
We were there also and can agree with what you said. Crowds are interested and ask questions and best, they purchase art. This is one of our top five shows. We sell jewelry, hand cut stones wrapped in silver and gold. Average range 90-130.00. A number of pieces over 400.00 sold. Volunteers we're great!

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