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

Mainsail Art Festival—Too bad Easter got in the way

Mainsail was last weekend in St. Petersburg, FL. So was Easter Sunday.  That is a killjoy for any art show.

Attendence sags and so do sales.

Even the attendence In Saturday was off from the usual Numbers we see.

St. Pete is my hometown, I was born in the 1940’s there and so I have seen it come a long way.

I have done the show more than 20 times and it has always been good.

Not this year.  It was down 50 percent.  That is a big down.

After Ft. Worth, it was pretty anticlimactic.

The Show is held in a big semi-tree-Ed Park on the bay in downtown SP (St. Pete).

Most spaces used to be on grass.  Not anymore.  Mostly hardpacked dirt with blowing oak leaves crawling thru everybody’s booths.

Just Lovely.  Makes you think of the Great Depression Dustbowl Days.

The SP Recreation Dept. runs the show. Probably about 200 artists. Most are setup in the blazing sun,

Hey, if you are making money who cares.

A lot of artists in all fields do very well at this show.  It is not an easy one to get into.

They have serious prize money so it attracts the big hitters who mine their gold in the ribbons of Florida art shows.  Almost no other state has prize money as big as the Florida shows.

So, I will give you a little play by play as how this year’s show went for me.

As if you really care.

Well, some of you care and that is good enough for me.

I got home from Ft. Worth on Tuesday and was able to have one fuckoff day on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the day before setup, I headed over to SP from NSB.

Acronyms up your ying-yangs.

I got to stay with my best bud Richard who I have known since Little League day’s of 1955.

He lives in a great sixfloor condo one block from the show.

He has 800 great bottles of wine in his coolers. I bring a couple of mine and we both imbibe thru the weekend.

Well the forecast for Setup day Friday called for strong storms and big winds during the afternoon hours.

God Bless, the Mainsail committee sent out E-mails as early as Wednesday saying they would monitor the weather closely and perhaps move up the check in time earlier then their standard one PM.

So on Thursday they mailed us that we could check in at 11am.

People were lined up by 9 am ready to go.

At 11am on the dot they opened.

We zoomed to our spots.

Mind you, even with no rain yet, the winds were 20-30 mph.  

Good luck getting your roof on your canopy.

Some people did.  Mostly those with pop up canopies,

I got the metal frame of my LighDome up. It took another 30 minutes to get the roof on.

I then knew if I tried to raise the canopy to display height it would take a lot of stress and possible damage.

So, I took the roof off.

Closed up the van and retreated to Richard’s to wait for the storm to pass.

I caught a few zees and woke up around 3 pm.  Storm had passed and winds were acceptable to deal with.

A bunch of us got our booths up, I would say over 50 percent.

We artists are troopers, we persist thru the worst of times, usually wise-cracking and smiling at our nabs.

Had some great wine that nite—and yummy seafood.

Slept great and woke up to perfect artshow weather on Saturday.

Temp was in mid-seventies with 15-20mph winds.  No humidity.

People were out early and buying.  Just did not see the usual swarming crowds that you see at Mainsail.

Exhibitors were making quality sales with patrons.  Their numbers were less, but they were buying big.  People with high ticket prices prospered.  People, like me, who need quantity, to go along with quality, were lacking.

I had a good day but it was off by 40 percent over last year.

Oh, I forgot something very important that softened my lackluster day.

At breakfest I opened up my EMails.

Shazam!  I got accepted to the Saint Louis Art Fair in September. That is a biggie for me. I had not been in for six years.

Drank more great wine with Richard that nite and celebrated getting into Saint Louis.

Sunday morn.  Another great weather day, no winds at all.

Mainsail always does a very nice awards breakfest on Sunday.  This year it was spot on.

Being Easter, the crowd was very thin.  Barely saw any numbers until about 1pm.

I made a $150 sale at 10 am and never had another sale until 3pm.  I did a whopping $300 in sales.

It sucked.  No buying energy.

Shows cannot schedule on Easter.  It does not work.

Teardown was mellow, for Mainsail.

Got home to NSB on Monday, and had a great fuckoff day.

I have one more Florida show in two weeks.  The Fernandina  Shrimp and Art Fest.

We head north to Saugatuck on May17, for five months.

Will keep you posted as always.

A little Postscrip.

Ellen always asks me why I continue to do What I do.

My reply is this.

I love the concept of setting up for an art show, then selling, then leaving.

I call it Take the Money and Run.

It goes back to my days in Hawaii while in the Army.

Every nite I would come down from the Army base to my oceanfront home on Banzai Pipeline and I would see all these Hippies hanging out under a banyan tree.

They were selling candles and incense .  They were also sipping wine and beer and smoking delicious doobies.  Believe me, I know, I stopped enough times.

I said to myself, “Would it not be wonderful if could setup outside and sell my photos.  And have some fun, drink a little wine...and, whatever!”

Guess what? I am living that dream.

I am one lucky guy, 47 years later.

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Comment by Nels johnson on April 27, 2019 at 2:52pm

Jeez, all your comments are overwhelming

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