Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Holiday Food and Gift Festival - Tacoma, WA

OK, here's one for the west coast gang. 


The Holiday Food and Gift Festival in Tacoma, Washington just celebrated their 29th year last Wednesday through Sunday (you read that right folks - five days).  It's held in the Tacoma Dome and both are an institution in this city.  It's been since the late 90's since I've been here, so I'm going to share the HFGF past, present, and future.



Back in the 90's, there would be several thousand people lined up outside in the wind and rain waiting to get into the doors.  Anything and everything that was hand made was gobbled up like that last bit of turkey on the bone.  Back then I started to notice that items that people made by their two hands were becoming more of a novelty than a fact.  And, so it remains in the present.



The show is mostly commercial with a smaller section called "Artists-in-Action" that is handmade by the artist and they are also supposed to be demoing their craft to the public.  However, there was very little demonstrating going on.  This group was also offered a 40% discount on their booth - nice incentive for being in the show; it would be nice if this were applied to all that made their wares. 

There were two booths in my row that had re-cycled clothing.  The one lady I spoke with was buying clothes by the pound from the Goodwill, washing, and selling them in a double booth.  Her competitor was obviously doing something similar. 

There were lots of imported Christmas ornaments, socks, back massagers, a music-type player that will connect to your used pizza box to use as a speaker, and this time included was Direct TV, Verizon, Sprint, walk in bath tubs, dip mixes, etc, etc, etc.  Not being here since 1998 was a real eye opener.



The show moves to a four-day week for their 30th anniversary, rumor has it that the city increased the rental rate and they decided to go to the lesser days to avoid a cost increase to their vendors.  At $995 per 10x10, I believe it's going to be a tough sell.  Even tougher is that they've decided to do a similar show in Seattle next year at the convention center.  They are asking $795 for that two-day show.  Hmm.  Seems a little astronomical to me!



Mackie and I did mediocre, but we did do a lot better than most.  This is definitely a bargain hunting mostly Christmas a low-end imported toy shopping crow.  My thought is that real artists need to find other opportunities.


Other Tacoma Info

Load in and out is fairly easy as long as one is patient and parking is plentiful.  There's an RV lot right at the Dome that has back in spaces with full hook ups for $30 per night.  The Tacoma Dome Hotel is in the parking lot and offers those needing a room for $79 per night.  There is a great bar in the hotel with reasonable food and beverages. 


All in all we had a nice time but will be back to our regular west coast schedule next year after moving back west from Florida.  But, that's another story.

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Comment by Annette Piper on October 24, 2011 at 4:58pm
Thanks for the review Joe - pity to hear the show has degraded so much, but at least you did OK.
Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on October 24, 2011 at 12:30pm
Connie - is there a way to know which ones are new?  Anyway to search by date added?
Comment by Connie Mettler on October 24, 2011 at 12:19pm
Thanks for this info, Joe. BTW, there have been 4 West Coast show reviews added to in the last couple of days if you're looking for more West information.
Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on October 24, 2011 at 11:50am
Joe - thanks for the post. This organization has contacted us several times urging us to participate.  We only know a couple of artists who have participated in this show and they warned us to stay far away from this show.

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