Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Yes, if something is planned to occur annually, and this is the first time it will happen, it is perfectly correct to say "first annual."
This is absolutely wrong according to the rules of grammar and English. The first time you hold any event it is the "inaugural" and the next year would be the "2nd annual".
You intend for the event to take place a second time, but you aren't sure it will (life happens). You never know what might happen in a year.....safer to call the first event "inaugural".
Ask any grammar or journalism teacher!
Okay, now that that is out of the way I'd like to report on the "(Inaugural) Cheesman Park Art Festival". Many of you are probably familiar with the Rio Grande folks and Ruth Gore who, for 25 years, have done their part in Albuquerque during the Balloon Fest in Oct. If I have my facts straight...her daughter Liz moved to Denver, created "Dash Events" and decided to create a new show here. I had my reservations (and reported on that with my blog "Too Many Shows...") about yet another show in the Denver area as I was concerned about the possibilities of show burnout for the attendees. I had a free weekend, didn't have to drive far, didn't have to stay in a motel, didn't have to...you get the idea. So, why not try something new and different? I hadn't done any Denver area shows (Peoples Fair? Forget it. Cherry Creek, haven't been invited yet!) in a long time and it was worth the gamble.
On to the particulars...
Logistics: The show was staged in one of the nicest parks in the Denver area. Cheesman Park is just west of the Denver Botanic Gardens which is located about 5 blocks north of where the Cherry Creek Arts Festival is held. Apparently this was the first of its kind in this park location.The neighborhood, even on a good day, is not parking friendly. This area has a lot of apartment buildings as-well-as old large family homes converted to apartments. To say the least street parking is NOT plentiful. The show provided a shuttle from a nearby high school but it wasn't available on Fri.
Loading in and loading out couldn't have been much easier. The hardest part was making a hard left turn, when I got into the park, to get around the barriers. Hopped outta the "Art Mobile" and was greeted by the friendly staff at the main tent. Got my packet, and as I had done my homework, knew where my booth space was supposed to be. Booth spaces were already chalked out along the roadway. The clusters of tents were laid out in such a way that there was plenty of space to park opposite my booth space and unload. Liz allowed for the option of locals, or others that could, to get early access and, as I had signed up for it, I was in at 1:00 with about 30 other artists. The extra 1 1/2 hour early load-in option gave me plenty of time to set up the tent, unload my boxes and then move outta the way for others.
Tents were staggered so that there was a row of about 10 tents on one side of the road and then the next row of ten were on the opposite side of the road. This left plenty of browsing space for the patrons. I hope they keep that set-up as it made things less chaotic overall.
Show Hours: Set-up was in the afternoon on Fri before the show from 2:30 till 6 or so. Saturday show hours were 10-8 and Sunday was from 10-5. I think the show probably could have been shortened to 6 or 7 on Saturday as the crowd was pretty thin by then. Someone once told me "Its better to leave the party while it is still fun then to be the last one to leave!" I think that same philosophy would be applicable here as well. By 8:00 it was already too dark to see into the tents, except for the one photographer who was smart enough to have set up his lights, and the crowd had thinned substantially.
Amenities: On Friday, when it was so hot that I thought I was going to pass out as I set up, one of the show staff came around with a wagon of cold soda, just in time! When I checked on Sat morning there was coffee but as I don't drink it I didn't care. Other than that I don't think there were any other offerings...correct me if I'm wrong on that. The staff was very attentive in walking the show on a regular basis which I think is a good thing for a promoter to do rather than handing you the packet and that's the last you see of them. Although they didn't specifically report it, I asked one of the blue T-shirt clad people if they were booth sitters and they said, "Sure, if you need anything just let us know!"
Demographics: The area itself is mixed with the young upwardly mobile as-well-as the long time established so there was a great mix of ages at the show. Not the usual second home retirees who have no wall space that I'm used to in some of the AZ shows that I've done.
Food: What, no corn dogs, no popcorn, no overpriced anything? Nope, what they did have were some of the nicest catering trucks with food prices that were not exorbitantly jacked up for the captive audience! I missed out on some of it on Saturday as we ordered out from a nearby restaurant but I took advantage of the El Toro El Tot wagon on Sunday for lunch. An incredible burger and tots that were seasoned with oregano and other secret spices, awesome! The whole meal + local soda=$10 I've paid more than that for the extra long corn dog and watered down lemonade!
Quality of the Art: This was a mixed bag. I think it was pretty wide. Not that the offerings were bad just that I thought some of the booths might have been better placed at a craft show. So, my question to the promoters would be, "What kind of a show are you wanting to promote? Is it just fine arts? Is it crafts also?" I guess the name of the show is open and vague enough to fit any bill.
Reflections: I thought that Liz and her crew did a great job for a first time show. Having been around the show promotion biz I'm sure she learned a lot from her mom. In fact Ruth was around for the show as well. All the staff showed enthusiasm, as evidenced by their happy faces, and were genuinely nice to every one. They didn't have the ho-hum look, and detached indifference, on their faces that I've seen on some other long time fair promoters faces. Things ran smoothly.
Now, the really important part...did people show up for the show? You bet! In fact when I sent a message out to my wife I told her I thought it was like a mini-Cherry Creek crowd! Not only were they walking the show but they were actually crowding into the booths (not like the walking dead I've seen lately, or the ones looking for free weekend entertainment) They really wanted to engage with the artists and were good critical viewers. I barely was able to get in a few minutes of rest-my-feet time from greeting people who came in.
Did they buy? Yes, indeed! In fact, after having had 3 stinker shows in a row prior to this one my expectations were pretty low. In terms of my bottom line it was the most profitable show I've had all year next to Topeka. Would I do it again, yes, without reservation.
So, overall, I'd say that Liz did a great job getting a new show off the ground, showed the right kind of enthusiasm and attention to the artists, provided a nice atmosphere for the patrons and got them out to see what was going on. A resident who lived adjacent to the park said that she had seen the tents going up on Friday and was a little concerned about what might be going on but was very enthusiastic about the quality of the show when she came out to walk it. What better endorsement than that could you want? Hopefully, there will be a "2nd Annual Cheesman Park Art Festival"!