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Penrod Art Festival, Indianapolis, IN, 2015

This was the 49th edition of this show, named after a Booth Tarkington character, Penrod Schofield, a sort of Tom Sawyer type character set around 1900. I've done this show since 1988 and watched it become smoother and smoother each year. It has about 300 artists arranged around the grounds of the old Eli Lilly estate, now home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is a beautiful setting. There are several groups of artists in different sections, each with their own entertainment, such as the Blue section with the Indianapolis Symphony and several choral groups. The Green section where I was has jazz groups playing. None of the groups overwhelm and are just the right volume. Attendance is $20 at the gate and $15 in advance, so there are no or few dog walkers, and little idle curious. Attendance is about 30,000 so the gate fee doesn't keep out too many.

Set up starts on Friday morning at 9:30 AM and you are expected to clear out by 3:30 or 4:00. We arrived at 10:00, and were finished hanging everything by 2:00. Shuttle service is provided to ferry the artists to a parking lot about 3/4 mile away. Set up was plagued by drizzling rain about 10:30, but I had decided to put the tent up and hang the side tarps before unloading anything else, and that was a good call. By 2:00 about half the artists had their booths up, and virtually all were complete on Saturday morning. This show starts early, at 9 and goes to 5. 

Tear down is a little different, as there are only a limited number of spots for vehicles to pull in. No one is allowed in before 5:45, and the volunteers keep tabs on available spaces so only enough vehicles are let in that the space will accommodate.  Unfortunately, some artists take exception to this and the volunteers have been yelled and screamed at for doing a difficult to manage job. The best way to load out at this show is to send a helper to the parking lot and get in line while you finish tearing down. if you're the only one present, this can add 45 minutes to an hour to your drive out time.

I wasn't able to compare notes with others on how well they did, but I did see a lot of large packages being carried. In a summer for me, marked by low sales except for a few spots, I was worried about infrequent sales at the beginning of the show but things started picking up and I wound up having the second highest show of the year. I'm revising my attitude about what size of photos sell, and it looks like smaller pieces (lower cost) is what is moving, but my luck says next year will be a different ballgame. I have two shows to go, a month away and then the two are back to back weekends with one being a brand new one day show here in town and the final one is in Bluffton, SC.

Here's a photo of the Green section which is in front of the Eli Lilly Mansion. I think it was around noon time or an hour later as the phone records the time in GMT time. This was during a lull in the crowd. I like the way people are pointing in the booths ;-)

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Comment by Paul Flack on September 14, 2015 at 10:12am

Well organized  show for the scope and limited amount of time. Very impressive.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on September 14, 2015 at 12:18pm

Robert, are you doing the Monument Circle Art Fair?

Comment by Robert Wallis on September 14, 2015 at 12:26pm

I surely am :-). The organizer had her booth directly across from me at Penrod and brought  over several small fliers which I stuck by my flip bin. About half the stack was picked up. I recognize several names on her artist list. I always thought that would be a good spot for a show.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on September 14, 2015 at 12:39pm

Surprisingly, since my booth design needs an overhaul, I'll be there, too.  I'll look for you.  I saw that there was a show there this month, the Indie something or other

Comment by Bonnie Blandford on September 14, 2015 at 1:09pm

I was also there and in the green section so I'll add my comments. Set-up was easy since they let us put up our canopy before unloading everything due to the rain. I appreciated that! Having to be done by 3:30 was a little tough since we had a long drive to get there but we managed. Unfortunately the shuttle back to the parking lot that was 3/4 of a mile away, wasn't running from 2:30-3:30 due to another commitment. There were a few lucky people that were taken by golf car but the rest were left to walk after waiting a very long time at the shuttle stop, not knowing it wasn't coming. The weather on Saturday was perfect and the crowds were large leaving some artists happy and others not, just like any other show. Take-down needs work. Our entire section had no vehicles in it because they were all waiting in a very long line to come in. The people on the street with the line had no idea that all of the people in line had room to come into the green section. That was unfortunate since it made for cranky artists waiting much longer than was necessary. But that was the only down side. I hadn't been back in many years but happy I tried it again!

Comment by Robert Wallis on September 14, 2015 at 3:40pm

Part of the problem was artists getting in the wrong lanes coming from the parking area although lanes were marked which area they would go to.  After they figured out they were in the wrong lanes they would hold up everyone behind them waiting for someone to let them in on the next lane over. At least we weren't in the Blue section where only 5 or 6 vehicles can park at a time. I still have nightmares of when I was over there and not getting out until 10:00 at night. Getting out of the venue has always been the downside of Penrod.

Comment by Alison Fox on September 14, 2015 at 5:11pm

That load out is too funny.  Must be cuz the dudes have drained those taps on their coolers!  They have radios!  Why can't they have more traffic control with the lanes?  Bigger, larger signs so people know where to go?  It's all marked off with orange cones so I don't get the issue.  And actually the walk to that lot isn't tooooo bad if you have to, but alot cannot so they need to redo that shuttle service some, no?  Glad you all had great weather and it sounds like, mostly, great sales!  I have left them comments on what needs to be done, which to me, takes just a bit more coordination and shouldn't be all that difficult, but it really doesn't happen, as I can see by ur reviews.  This society is all guys, not paid, etc.  There ya go.

Comment by Robert Wallis on September 14, 2015 at 5:24pm

They've tightened ship over the last few years, and the guys on the golf cares aren't drinking like they used to. I guess something about liability was said ;-) To give them their due, when your vehicle shows up, they get a squad of guys to take stuff to your vehicle and particularly if you're older or a woman. Just get there before the after-show party starts later that evening or you won't see anyone. I think the party starts after dark, so that gives you just a bit over 3 hours to pack up and get out with assistance.

Comment by Robert Wallis on September 14, 2015 at 5:27pm

Ehh, that should read "guys on the golf carts"

Comment by Karen Holtkamp on September 15, 2015 at 5:07pm

So, Robert, what did you think about Art on the Commons in Kettering?

(Relax, everybody, I'm not highjacking the thread.  Just giving Robert a friendly noogie...)

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