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Golden Fine Arts Festival 2017, Golden, CO, August 19-20, 2017

This was the 27th annual Golden Fine Arts Festival and the 14th continuous year I have participated in the event.  Golden, CO is at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  It is home for the Colorado School of Mines, a top engineering school, and the Coor’s brewery.  Students were returning to school the weekend of the show.

The show is set up for three blocks on 11th Street and over 130 artists from 20 states occupy 160 booth spaces.  There was live music and beer in the food court at the east end of the show.  There were also art activities for kids.

The Golden Chamber of Commerce manages the show, and there were new personnel for the show this year which resulted in some problems.   The show is important to the business community and I feel confident that this year’s problems will be resolved.

Application to the show is through Zapp. The jury fee is $30 and single booth fee is $450.  Acceptance to the show is competitive.  Ribbon awards with cash ($1800 divided up) are given for Best of Show, and first and second places for each medium.



      Set up begins at midnight Thursday before the show, but most artists set up Friday.  There was no “traffic czar” and consequently artists with large vans and trailers blocked access to other’s booths for hours on end.  In past years, artists have unloaded and moved vehicles off the street.

      The same situation existed at take down.  It was stated in the information packet that vehicles would not be allowed on the street until 5:45pm, 45 minutes after the show closed. There were vehicles on the street at 5:05 while patrons were still on the street.  This is a serious safety issue.



      Friday and Sunday were in the mid 80’s.  Saturday it got up to 92 and there was no cloud cover.



  1. The first sign that the show was going to have problems was the information packets at 9:00am checking. They were not available until 1:00pm Saturday. Booth ID sheets were in the packet, but there was no sleeve to display them. Some artists got sleeves later but I ended up using one of my own.  There was a playing card in the packet. But no explanation of what it was for. I had a joker and thought maybe I had won some sport of prize, LOL. Although it was on Zapp, the show hours were not given in a pre-show email or in the packet.
  2. A parking map was provided but I heard from people with trailers that they were told to leave designated parking areas.
  3. TAX INFORMATION. Management really dropped the ball on this one, especially for the 20 out-of-state artists. Information about obtaining a Colorado Special Event license was on Zapp. The $50 city tax deposit was covered in Zapp and pre-show email, but a separate email from the city provided instructions for obtaining the temporary city tax license (free). The only tax information in the packet was instructions and for collecting the 3% city tax. In past years, this tax was collected on site at the end of the show. This year it was to be mailed in, but that was not in the packet.

State and Jefferson County taxes are complicated for a

non-resident. They consist of State 2.9%, Jefferson County     0.5%, RTD (transportation)1% and CD (cultural) 0.1%. All of these combined with the city tax gives a combined 7.5% rate which was given in Zapp but not in the packet.  Furthermore, the Colorado Department of Revenue site is not easy to navigate, even for residents (even I swear when I have to use it).  Better shows provide a step by step description of how to access the tax reporting form for Special Events.

  1. Advertising. In past years a summary of advertising has been provided. At some of the earlier shows I attended actual tear sheets of everything were in a really thick packet. It was overwhelming. A simple list would allow artists to evaluate advertising with crowd size and buyers.
  2. COMMERCIAL BOOTH. Saturday morning, two booths down from me, Anderson Windows started setting up a booth. WHAT? This is totally unheard of at Golden. I found the onsite “boss” and politely but firmly explained to her that Anderson among the artist was an “in your face, red flag insult to every artist in the show!” She moved them, but it should not have happened in the first place.
  3. Exit Survey. I completed mine but no one seemed to know what to do with it.  I gave mine to a volunteer in their booth who was reluctant to take it, and had no information on other options.



      Port-a-Pots and hand washing stations were available. Volunteers provided water and booth sitting (the playing cards were for calling a booth sitter). Snacks were available before and during the show. There was an artist reception Friday night. I have attended in the past, but now I don’t go as we commute to the show and it is 1:10 drive home.



      Historically, Golden has grown from a $2-3K show to a consistent $4-5K show for me. This year sales were off from 2016 by $900, but it was still a good show. I had 59 sales and the average sale was $72. My net margin was 87%. The good numbers were the result of some $200+ holster, multiple belt and silver buckle sales.

      The crowd was down from last year, I attribute this to many people going to Wyoming for the solar eclipse on Monday. The news reported 500,000 people for CO made the trip and one would expect most of them were from the Denver metro area.

      I plan to return if I don’t get blackballed for complaining about Anderson Windows booth.  



      There are always lots of dogs, infants and toddlers at Golden. You will hear different languages spoken by foreign students and visitors.  A man from China seemed really happy to have his picture taken with one of my saddles and a historic holster with model six shooter.  Another man and I conversed in Spanish about a dog collar. I thanked him for allowing me to practice my Spanish. He thanked me for letting him practice his English.  To top it off we always got to Woody’s for pizza after takedown around 9:00pm. 

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Comment by Christina L. Towell on August 28, 2017 at 9:12am

Wow!  What an excellent critique, Richard, I really enjoyed reading it and I'm sure others will as well.  Thanks for all the details and information, this should be very helpful to other artists that have done or plan to do this show, thanks!

Comment by Tamara Dinius on August 28, 2017 at 11:33am

Thank you for sharing the details of your experience. I appreciate your honest critique of this event. I have been doing the larger shows for about two years and am still learning the ins and outs of them. Thank you!

Comment by david jessup on August 29, 2017 at 1:51pm

Have to agree with a lot of what my pal Richard said. Just a lot of murky situations and misinformation. I was ready to pay tax at show but someone walked through while we were packing, saying to send it in. I still have my evaluation sheet because I thought someone was going to collect it.
My sales were dreadful! First time in this show that I had always heard praise for. Likely my worst show ever? I would have hoped for a 2-4K show. Not even close. And since artists are always asking other artists how they did, I have to say that I only spoke to one other who was satisfied. I and my 2 neighbors all did less than $1k and the artist across $0
Not for lack of people but I only sold small items.(I sell hand built cement planters and bird baths.) It was kind of hot though. Might re-try given the potential for a better show, but $450?


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