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Fountain Hills Great Fair 2018, Where's the warm weather?! Where's the Buyers?!

2018 version of the Fountain Hills Great Fair in Fountain Hills, AZ an isolated community NE of Phoenix. I say isolated meaning that it grew up outside the boundaries of the larger metro area but still within reach. This was the third time I've attended this show with diminishing returns this year.

Just The Facts...

Show Hours and Dates: Fountain Hills Great Fair, Fountain Hills, AZ. Feb. 23-25, 2018, 10 - 5 each day but it helps to be open by 9:30 for the early crowd. There is also a November edition of this show. This show can be found on the Zapplication call for entry website.

Logistics, Load-In/Out:

Load in for the show was Thursday afternoon starting at 5 pm after businesses are closed and roads are clear. Depending on your location load-in/out can either be frustrating or less so. I was on the far NW side of the show so it was a little less congested then down near the fountain. I can't help but wonder if my location lead to lower sales, i.e., if I had been closer to the fountain would I have done better?

Amenities:

This show has always relied on the artists to figure out their own plans for food, the usual "fair food" is available. I had leftovers and there are nearby regular restaurants and a grocery store that I've gotten sandwiches from the night before. The occasional volunteer booth sitters came by.

Storage, Booth Space:

Most booths, that I could see, had some sort of storage space behind them. Booths are allowed 4 feet of clear space behind them which was enough for me to put my two wheeler back there and stack stuff on it.

Demographics/Buying Trends:

Can't speak to "buying trends" as I didn't see much buying going on. I guess that is a trend in-and-of-itself! Low end was the rule of the show. Not so much artwork as trinkets were walking by.

Quality/Range of Art:

The range of "art" was very wide. From my survey of booths content was variable. There of course were some high end artists and a lot of (good and bad) craft items, food, ointments and clothes.

Food:

You either brought your own or went to the typical "fair food" vendors. On my end of the show there was the lemonade vendor that is at all the AZ shows and the huge fair food truck/booth. I think a service organization was cooking the obligatory burgers and hotdogs somewhere.

Weather:

I don't often comment on the weather but it is notable here. In previous years of doing this show it was just right. Not so this year. A large cold front that was blanketing the more northerly states made its appearance here in the form of lower than average temps and a lot of wind! It made for a very uncomfortable weekend in addition to the paltry sales. I was hoping for some respite from the cold in Denver but not so this year!

Reflections:

This was not a first time show for me. I know (sometimes) when it's time to bail on a show. Usually it's when your revenue one year goes to half, you think it's a fluke, and the next year it's half again. That was the case with this show so I guess it's time to bail! This show lacked enthusiasm, it seemed as if it were being held out of some obligation and not out of a real spirit of support for the arts or the artists. As is the case, when that happens it seems to be a swan song. I've heard that there is a November edition of this show and of course "it's much better!" Maybe I'll give it a try after 2020.

Okay, now for the star rating! I'd give this show 1/2 out of 5 and that's being generous. As far as the buying goes, I'd give it  1/4 ✩ and that's being way to generous. I did lose money doing this show.

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Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on March 7, 2018 at 5:19pm

I would have to disagree with the 200,000+ visitors, based on our 2 attempts to do this show.  One other note, it always seemed to be about 1/3rd jewelry.  I will say the items that seemed to sell the best were either edible items, yard art or other outdoor decor items.

Hi Connie - just haven't had a lot to contribute lately, Dale has partially retired so we're only doing a few shows a year and just enjoying a slower pace of life.  Still planning to winter in AZ every year but we're seriously considering just coming here as snowbirds, not artists, as the shows in AZ and SoCal have just not been financially worthwhile.  Lots of decisions to make this summer, but we might just be leaving the booth in the storage room when we leave Seattle in the fall.

Comment by S Brian Berkun on March 7, 2018 at 3:47pm

From their website:

"Now in its 32nd year, this three day juried art fair features nearly 500 artists and artisans from across the United States and around the globe, and attracts 200,000+ visitors. Food booths, beer garden and seating areas abound throughout the venue, with great breakfast, lunch and rest stops situated at locations in the middle and at both ends of the festival area. Live musical entertainment."

Comment by S Brian Berkun on March 7, 2018 at 3:45pm

With some exceptions...pretty much.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 7, 2018 at 2:52pm

Hello Ruth, glad you chimed in. You've been missed around here.

Wow! That is a large event. Not many shows have that many exhibitors. What would be the attraction for attendees? is it, kind of like Florida, just something for them to do on a weekend for amusement?

Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on March 7, 2018 at 2:52pm

We've  tried both the spring and fall versions of this show and won't ever go back.  First warning for us that this show had gotten too big and greedy by adding booths was hearing comments on the first day that "wow, they added more booths".  Our experience with the fall vs. spring show was 2.5 years apart but heard the same comment by customers at both shows.

Comment by S Brian Berkun on March 7, 2018 at 11:22am

500-600 I think, at last count, I heard that they had added spaces at some point. The show is booth art and craft. A lot of snow birds as-well-as others. Not so many families were seen this year.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 6, 2018 at 8:14pm

How many exhibitors, Brian? Is this more of a crafts show? Are the attendees snow birds do you think? 

Comment by Leanne Howie on March 6, 2018 at 3:55pm

I was wondering about this show. There seems to be alot of vendors at this show which makes me believe that sales are few and far between if you're a newbie fighting for show dollars.  Nothing we can do about weather, just have to pray that it's good. Good luck with future shows. 

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