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Okay, Nels.  You shamed me into it, but only because I have something to say about the set-up in Mt. Dora.


Mt. Dora is a charming town just North-West of Orlando.  The downtown is full of galleries, boutiques, restaurants and small-to-large parking lots.  It is surrounded by a grid-pattern of residential streets. 


For the Friday afternoon setup you go to a church a few blocks away and check in by showing an ID and getting your space number, load-in time and parking area.  The set-up times are staggered with the earliest being 5:30 PM.  My time was for 5:45.  I had a few hours to kill so I went downtown and found my space and assigned parking lot.  My "lot" was actually a section of street parking reserved for artist in my area and was only a block away from my booth location.  While sitting in my van in my assigned "lot" a police car came by and told me I had to move.  When I told him I was just waiting to set-up he said I had to leave and could only approach set-up from one of two specific entry points.  It was then that I remembered my past experiences with the Mt. Dora Gestapo.  The folks from The Mt. Dora Center for the Arts plan it out and the police come along and screw it up. 


I then had to drive for blocks and blocks around the cordoned off downtown through the residential streets to the opposite end of town from my booth location and cue-up behind six blocks of artist vehicles slowly rolling and stopping every few yards,  All this during Mt. Dora's prodigious small-town rush-hour.  Now understand, all the artists assigned parking in the lots spread out through the downtown are already there and ignoring their set-up times and are setting-up in lanes that are suppose to be open for those of us who have to run the gauntlet for blocks to get to our spaces.  It is the most dysfunctional cluster-f__k you can imagine.  And remember, I was originally parked a short block from my space on a street with absolutely no traffic on it.


One-third of the show is set up for about 5 blocks on the main street of town (Donnally Street) with artists on both curbs and the other two-thirds of us are set up on the cross streets and one block parallel to main street.  Many spaces are on hills and slops that make for a difficult booth layout.  In the 15 years I've done this show on and off, I have never been on the main street.  A friend of mine told me at check-in he said something like, "Damn, same old lousy space as last year", and the lady said, "Would you like a spot on Donnally?"  He jumped at it and I later found out there were as many as 30 open spaces on Donnally. 


My space was an improvement over previous years and I was next to a friend of mine, also a photographer (our work is not similar).  Finishing my set up after dark, I drove out a street that went straight out of the area but, at the first intersection, I was told I had to turn down the dead-end street to my right and exit out a parking lot at the end.  So down I go and what do I find in the dark, unlit parking lot?  Two artists trying to back their trailers into parking spaces and then getting out to unhitch the units and then move their cars again.  It took me 10 minutes to get back to the intersection that was one clear block away from where I was told to go right! 


I go into this detail to show how some shows shoot themselves in the foot by trying to control every facet of set-up and tear-down.  Fortunately, the police officer at my intersection this year was the only one who would not have been hanged at Nuremberg.  Against orders, he followed common sense and let us in where we should have entered for set-up.  He said, "You guys do this every weekend, how do you want to do it?"


By the time the show opened at 10 AM. Saturday morning, my neighbor and I had already made sales.  He sold his biggest piece for $1700.  My sales were brisk all day but I had only one sale over $200.  The crowds were huge and mostly from Orlando.  The artist's hospitality station supplied snacks and drinks both days and they tried to get artists to attend the Sunday morning awards breakfast by offering 10 $100 door prizes.  I had no piece picked for judging and didn't attend.  I never did see any ribbons. 


My sales for Saturday were almost $2K, but Superbowl-Sunday could only produce half of that as the crowd really fell off after 3 PM.  All of my neighbors were pleased with their sales, but friends from other sections mostly complained.  One photographer friend was on the hill in front of the Art Center and said he did $1150 on Saturday and only $150 on Sunday.


One thing I've never seen before was the two attendants at each bank of port-o-potties.  They kept them clean and well supplied all weekend.  The tip-jar was prominently displayed.


My friend next to me told me a story of how he was standing in front of his booth and he heard a commotion next to him in front of my booth.  He said some people were telling a man with a camera that he wasn't suppose to photograph my pictures as there was a "No Photography" sign displayed on my booth.  My friend, also a photographer, stepped in and made sure the man moved on.  Then he caught the same guy 3 more times trying to copy a photo on the front of my booth from various distances.  Each time my friend would step in front of the piece.  I'm sure the man eventually succeeded.  Why is it, in this digital age, everyone seems to think all imagery is free for the taking just because he can?


My booth at Mt. Dora.  My neighbor stands guard.



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Comment by Eric Clay on February 13, 2012 at 7:14pm

I did not do that great at this show. Just a little above making expenses.

I was setup near the end of Donnelley Street and it seemed that most of the people around me were not doing all that great. A metal sculptor to one side was only selling small $35 pieces, a painter to the other side did not seem happy with sales, and another photographer I spoke to that was several booths down said he totaled around $1,100.

There were a lot of people out. Whether those were mostly just people out for a walk or if there actually were some people with money in the crowd I found it hard to tell.

I would probably do the show again though. It is relatively close for me and with the level of crowd it pulls there has to be some potential for getting some good sales.

Comment by R. C. Fulwiler on February 13, 2012 at 4:59pm

Ynon, I told him I wanted to come in the shortest way and I didn't want to tear my whole booth down before I came in.  He let me.



Comment by David Olday on February 13, 2012 at 2:57pm

Thanks for the reminder.  I need to do the "No photographs" signage as well.  Thought I'd be nice to what I thought was a customer last year.  Never again.....

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on February 13, 2012 at 11:57am

Good report.  Thanks for passing this info on to the rest of us.

Comment by vicky lilavois on February 13, 2012 at 11:40am

I did the Mr. Dora show.  I couldn't find my assigned "parking lot" and had to drive back to check in where I was told it was street parking.  So back I went.  The police officer there said I had to enter from the opposite direction.  It wasn't difficult to do and my parking spot was a few yards from my booth space.  The crowds were art savvy;  I sold well and there was pizza place across from my booth.  What more could I ask for!

Comment by Ynon Mabat on February 13, 2012 at 11:15am

Hey Rich, you left one unaswered: He said, "You guys do this every weekend, how do you want to do it?"

would you mind enlightening me so at least I know?

Comment by Nels Johnson on February 11, 2012 at 8:16am

Aha!  I knew you could do it Rich.  Good report.

Cops are always a problem at Mt. Dora.  In the 30 odd years I have done that show, I have only seen a couple of years where they were "artist-friendly."  Most years they are not.  You just gotta know this going in to do the show.  But when you make good moola, you put up with it.

Comment by Geoff Coe on February 10, 2012 at 6:41pm

It should also be mentioned, in fairness, that at many shows the police do a GREAT job and they're completely in synch with the show director and the logisitics plan: Alan's "A" shows are nearly always that way; Collingswood, NJ is superb, the Renaissance Craftables shows I did last year were terrific, too.

Comment by Connie Mettler on February 10, 2012 at 3:56pm

I'll bet you are right. In some communities they don't even seem to notice (e.g., Ann Arbor), and in other places the gestapo steps in. 

Comment by R. C. Fulwiler on February 10, 2012 at 3:46pm

I don't know who to blame for the set up, but I suppect its the police. 


Yes, many times and yes, would do it again.


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