Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
If they had a casino up here I might have had a better return but as it was an art show my odds of success dropped exponentially! My spouse likes to go to casinos to gamble, not much, maybe $20 or so on nickel slots. I used to tell her to give me the $20 and we'd both be ahead, she'd have the satisfaction of losing the $20 and I'd have the money to take her to dinner. Then I got the joke, maybe I should have given her the booth fee!
Having just finished the Art Market show in Estes Park, CO I'd better get my thoughts down quick! First though just the facts!
Show Hours and Dates: Art Market of Estes Park, Estes Park, CO
May 24 - 26 (Memorial Day Weekend), 9-5 Sat & Sun, 9-4 Mon.
The show is set up on the sidewalks around Bond Park in downtown Estes Park. So, as far as locations go, this show had high visibility from the main drag through town. A real plus, or so I thought. The volunteer staff from the show do a good job of wrangling the artists into their spaces and as people arrive at their own staggered time frame there was never a problem of over crowding.
No water, no snacks, some volunteer booth sitters for the occasional break. Clean regular restrooms in the town hall or the library around the corner.
Storage, Booth Space, Load-In/Out:
Depending on your location, most booths had storage space behind, not a lot of space but it was there! No space between booths to speak of. This is a small park and they really tried to make use of all the concrete acreage available to them. No booths were on the grass, perhaps to keep it from being trampled or keep people from making it a soggy mess when it rained. Which is did.
The whole range showed up, all ages and types. The few artists I touched base with seemed content with their sales. A painter across from me sold two larger pieces above $200 each, an artist working with wood sold several large pieces throughout the weekend and another photographer said he sold well with unmatted/unmounted work. As for me, well it wasn't "nada" but it wasn't pretty! Based on my experience with other "mountain" shows in the past I filled in my inventory with lower price point items ($25) thinking they'd pull'm in. I sold three of them...all weekend. There were plenty of lookers and admirers but that was it. Reasons, I could speculate from now till next Thursday be-that-as-it-may-be see my reflections.
Quality/Range of Art:
This was not a high end FA show rather more of a craft show with some FA thrown in. The work that was there was well done.
There was the usual "Fair Food", one over priced hot dog wagon (with lemonade!) and the ubiquitous popcorn van! Estes Park is a town with plenty of restaurants a few are within walking distance of the park and you can call an order in and pick it up.
Years ago after trying different venues in Colorado I gave up on them and developed two guidelines: 1) don't do mountain shows and 2) don't do holiday weekend shows (with some exceptions). I broke both rules to try a show I hadn't done before. I have two guidelines...I should have stuck to them!
Why not mountain shows? They are small communities with limited means. Its not that they don't appreciate the art, they just can't afford it on wait staff salaries. They're looking for items that fit their budgets. I thought this show would be different as it is a major tourist draw. I know that isn't entirely true as there are those who can afford higher priced items, they just don't show up in droves.
Holiday shows? Well...its a holiday and in my experience people are typically looking for entertainment and not art. There are exceptions to this rule but they are few and far between.
One glaring observation I made. Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. On any given weekend the sidewalks are packed with people crawling from one souvenir and T-shirt shop to another. You can hardly move! Not so this weekend. The place almost looked like a ghost town, there actually were more people walking through the art show than town. Even the restaurants were perplexed by this lack of traffic. This is mere speculation but it could have been due to a perception that Estes Park was "closed" due to the flooding and severe road damage from last September. CDOT went out of their way to reconstruct one of the major routes to town and had posted alternative routes to town. Could it have been that it was a rainy weekend in Denver? And so on and so forth.
Okay, now for the Dave Piper star rating! I'd give this show ✩ and that is because of the nice job of logistics by the volunteers of the art center.