Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Yep. The belly dancers show up on Sunday and captivate a huge audience with their rhythmic swaying for a solid hour. They are part of the show.
It is held in a beautiful treed park right on the edge of downtown Lexington. All booths are on grass and you can stake down. They are scrimmy about giving you room on your sides (unless you pay for a corner). Most people have room for a rear awning and storage. It is a mellow Friday setup with the show on Sat. And Sunday. Decent hours with show ending at 6pm, Sat.m and 5pm on Sunday.
This year the weekend forecast was horrible with rain and thunderstorms predicted for 80% on Sat and 40% on Sunday. Thankfully, we lucked out. We had a few pissy,short showers early on Sat. And then clouds the rest of the day. It finally poured buckets around closing. So we lucked out. Because of the weather forecast, and the fact that it did rain everywhere except in the park, crowds were not at their fullest. Still, there were plenty of people and a lot of sales, mostly low end, were happening. Sunday morn we had pissy showers until about eleven. Then the sun came out along with a cooling breeze which in turn brought out good crowds.
Lexington is both a university town and a horse-breeding town, So you have lots of young couples and wealthy elders. Not a bad mix. I make more sales to young people here than anywhere else. And, I do 35 shows a year all over the country. And, I have been doing them for 42 years. I usually always make decent profit. In fact I can only recall less than ten shows where I lost money at, out of more than 1400 I have done.
This year was my best ever at Woodlands in the last seven years, It helps that I have a loyal following who seems to keep buying from me even if my work changes. For those of you who may not know, I had open heart surgery (quad bypass, one new valve and a band around another) four years ago. So along with a new body (hell of a way to lose 40 pounds when they rip you open with a saw) came a new body of work--my black and white photos hand colored using acrylic, not watercolor. They are working quite well and I am making a decent living at it in spite of the hard times we are going through. What I am saying is if you want to succeed in our biz you have to create your own niche market so that you stand out from the herd.
At this show there were at least ten photographers with outstanding European images. The trouble is that they all looked fairly alike. And there are only so many buyers for those images, so some prospered while others died or barely made a small profit.
Back to the show. People here, tend to buy traditional and conservative. It is a good market for crafts like metal, clay and leather. Glass, not as great. There are a ton of jewelers from all ends of the spectrum. Again, some do well while others languish. If there is one valid negative about this show it is the fact it is too large for the population it serves. Close to 400 exhibitors. It is run by the local arts association and they depend on it to make money to keep them running. So you can see they are not going to cut back the number of artists.
One other negative here also. The art league puts up pop up canopies for its sponsors who are intermingled with artists booths. Trouble is they do not anchor them. I pointed this out to the show director on Friday, because I had such a tent beside me, unanchored. I told him if a big wind came along the canopy could damage mine and others. He shrugged me off and said he would take care of it. He never did. Those tents were unanchored the entire show. That is just plain dumb. The Lexington Art League barely gets by and they do not need a liability issue like that. Are you listening to me, Mark, the director?
Sunday the crowd started buying by noon. I saw lots of packages in people's arms. Not all exhibitors were happy. But that is show biz. In fact I do not know of any show where 90 per cent of artists are happy. For an August show this is a decent one where you can make a decent paycheck. Hotel rates are very reasonable here. Food is varied and decently priced. You can drink great bourbons everywhere. Had a few great ones but I passed on the 24 year old Papys, I had a great show, but not that great.
Well, there it is kiddos. Hope you gleaned some nuggets of wisdom which will help you make an informed decision about this show. I tell you one thing, this show beats the hell out of the new Cleveland Flats show. But that is topic to be addressed in the future.