Our third year at this well supported community event. It’s one of our favorite locations and favorite 2 day shows. What’s not to like about island life?? The views from this location are fantastic with Mount Baker and the Cascades to the east, the Olympic Mountains to the west and of course, the Puget Sound that surrounds the island. It’s a small, community festival that attracts tourists who are vacationing in the area or Seattle area residents who have weekend homes on the island. The locals support this festival and they have great volunteer support. Whidbey Island is very supportive of the arts, Langley is listed in John Villani’s “The 100 best Art Towns in America”. The Island also has a large population of retirees who are very supportive of the art shows in the area. This is a show that is primarily about the art, you don’t see clowns, stilt walkers and other sideshow freaks. There is a music stage, the music on Saturday was definitely better than Sunday and if you were close to the stage the volume was a little too loud. The music late Sunday afternoon was absolutely too loud and dreadful music to listen to, it made me wish I had ear plugs!
It’s one of the few shows we do in the summer that Saturday night ends at 6 PM instead of 8 or 9 PM so we actually get a little more time to hang out with friends in the evening. We once again brought our grill and had a great visit with other artists where we were camped. The show does offer shuttle service for the patrons from the ferry dock to the show and I talked to several people who took advantage of that service and were pleased that it was available. Artist parking is away from the show, a mostly uphill climb from the down town area, however they do provide a shuttle that would be convenient if you weren’t bringing all your product in and out each morning/evening.
Load in went very smoothly for us this year, the volunteer committee running the show communicated much better regarding the start of the load in time and knowing that they are always running behind we arrived a little later than our stated time and barely had time to change out of sandals into our tennis shoes before they were telling us to get back in the truck to the staging area. This year, at least for us, seemed to be the smoothest, easiest load in we’ve had at this show. We again had help from a volunteer unloading and were able to quickly get our truck out of the way. There was also an artist reception but it was during the same time as load in so I didn’t hear any reports of artists taking advantage of free nibbles and beverages.
This year the show added 20 booths, 10 of them jewelry and I was a bit concerned going into the show. In the end, sales were the best we’ve had here in 3 years and we went home happy. Unfortunately not all the artists were quite as happy, but overall most seemed okay with the show. I didn’t hear of anyone making a killing at the show, but neither did I hear anyone really complaining about not making expenses except for one oil painter who sells only one of a kind paintings and no prints. Some of the jewelers reported lower sales than last year, the fiber artist who makes beautiful sweaters was having a slower than usual show but we also know some wood artist and a ceramics artist who were having great shows. There were several artists that I see at various shows that I hadn’t seen here before, many of them had done this show in the past and added it back to their schedule this year. 3 of the artists who came back for the first time in a few years were pleased with their sales.
Weather was perfect, sunny and in the low 70s, the “heat refugees” from the horrible high temperatures in the Midwest who were on vacation were absolutely delighted to be here instead of at home. Almost 100% of our sales on Saturday were to tourists, most of those non-Washington residents, almost all our sales on Sunday were to local residents. Our booth was in the second quad from the shuttle stop, so we heard a lot of “I’ll be back” comments, this was definitely a show where the “be backs” actually came back, about 1/3 of our sales were from “be backs”. Sales on Saturday were fairly steady until about 5 PM and died the last hour. A street dance is part of the festival on Saturday night, most of the artists are closed and gone before that event begins. Sunday started slow, we had a good “flurry” in the middle of the day and after 3 PM it was dead. Our sales dollars were fairly evenly divided between the 2 days, but the number of sales on Sunday was far less than Saturday.
One of the most difficult parts of doing this show is just getting to the island, you never know how long the ferry wait is going to be. Coming in on Friday, a 3 hour wait was posted, we were on the ferry within an hour of getting in line, Sunday night however, we had a 90 minute wait and then the drive home seemed longer than usual due to heavy traffic going through downtown Seattle.