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REVIEW: Estes Park Arts and Craft Show, Colorado, September 5-67, 2015

Estes Park is the gateway to the east side of Rocky Mountain Park and this year was its 100th anniversary.  There are many summer homes in the area and it is a destination for a broad spectrum of nationalities, income levels, and interests.  I started doing this show in 2010, and I have done it every year since then.  I also do the Memorial Day show in Estes Park.  Gross sales at the September Labor Day show since 2010 have been in the $3-$5K range, and I have considered it a good solid show.  The show is produced by the Estes Valley Sunrise Rotary, Inc. and they do an all-around EXCELLENT job!!!!  The town is packed for the weekend, and leading up to the show there was a lot of promotion on Facebook.  The show is setup with 103 booths set up around the perimeter of Bond Park and in the parking lot for the town hall.  Clean, indoor, accessible restrooms are in the town hall.

SETUP AND TAKE DOWN.  Set up officially begins at 9:00am on Friday but Rotarians are present to check you in as early as 7:30am.  If you are early you can park at your site to unload.  Street parking is available within a block of the show, but oversize vehicle and trailers have to park at the fairgrounds.  Free shuttle service is available from there, and in town.  Volunteers are available to assist with unloading and set up.

     Takedown begins at 3:00pm on Monday and volunteers were there to help.  Like set up, traffic was controlled and vehicles were not allowed in until you were ready to load.  After paying your sales tax, you get a yellow ticket.  When your booth is knocked down and you are ready to load you get a blue pass to bring your vehicle in.  We loaded around 7:30pm.

WEATHER.  Temperatures were in the 70’s.  There were brief showers Sunday.  An unweighted booth went over in a gust of wind Friday night and another had breakage knocked off a wall. 

 THE SHOW.  The town was packed with people and thousands went through the art show.  There was seldom a time when people were not in my booth, and I had several repeat clients.  Belts were my top seller, with holsters, suspenders, spur straps, and several custom orders thrown in.  My sales were in the $4-5K range, and my largest sale was $475 for a silver mounted headstall and two breast collars (horse gear).  There was a good balance of all art/craft mediums including edibles like jellies and salsas.  There is no buy/sell at this show.  Nuts and bolts for the show are in  The Rotarians have coffee and goodies in the morning, and booth sitters. All taxes are paid to the Rotary at the end of the show.

ANALYSIS.  I have come close to hitting the “home run” of $5K gross sales at this show a couple times.  My inventory of flasks and checkbooks was pretty lean by this, the last shown of the season.  Most of the belts sold were plain, and only a few were the more expensive carved with or without silver buckles.  I sold out of some sizes and some styles of buckles but didn’t loose and sales because of that.  The Estes crowd is definitely middle class and families visiting the park.  It is also a destination for Denver motorcycle clubs making the run up Big Thompson Canyon and over Trail Ridge Road.

THE OTHER FUN STUFF.  There were lots of different dog breeds and babies at the show.  Interacting with both was fun.  We were able to rent our favorite cabin that is just up the hill from Bond Park.  It was built in 1898 but it is modern and cozy. The hot tub is great after a day on the street.  Our son and his family came up for a cook out Saturday and we got to visit with our college and high school age grandsons.  Tuesday after the show we headed to the park and drove up Fall River Road (one lane dirt one way) up to Trail Ridge Road.  We saw elk and mountain sheep.

I cannot emphasize enough the need to be in top physical condition for doing shows.  I will be 72 in a couple weeks and Jean is 68.  Set up takes us 7 1/2 hours of steady work and take down is 4 1/2 hours.  We don’t diddle around, but we have lots of inventory.  At the end of the days we are still energized and not exhausted.  We do yoga 1-2 times a week and work out with a personal trainer once a week.



Photos:  1. Setup Friday morning, Longs Peak. 14,259’

             2. Saturday crowd

             3. A pampered dog with green paws, pink and purple tail and ears.

             4. Fall River Road

             5. Longs Peak from Trail Ridge Road

             6. Bull elk 

             7. Bear Bottom Cabin  

Views: 468

Comment by Connie Mettler on September 10, 2015 at 8:35pm

I want to be there! Thanks for all these photos. They really tell a story. 

I get what you are saying about the buyers, good solid middle class who will buy nice things, but not too many home runs.

Yes, this is not a business for sissies in so many ways. People will complain about the hard work but I always thought the physical work was a blessing after all those days working in the studio and over the desk. Great to get out and haul those boxes and hoist that tent. Good for you. 

Richard, do you notice much 2D work at this show? Do you see paintings, drawings, mixed media work and do you think it is sold? Is the crowd mostly interested in the Western theme?

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 10, 2015 at 10:53pm

There is a mix of painters, wildlife photographers, and scenic photographers who are AFIers and who have done this show several times. The 2D who have not done well are those with only large mega pieces. You have to remeber that a lot of the tourists have flown in and are thinking "carry it home" rather than ship it home. Tour buses disgorge a lot of people on the show too, but I have never had much success with them - mostly lookers I think. There are lots of folks from the midwest judging by their sweatshirts, and they are hunters and interested in the western lifestyle as well as the scenery and wildlife of the park in 2D.

Comment by margaret luttrell on September 11, 2015 at 10:37am

Fabulous review that hit all the marks...including making me want to apply next spring-just to get to go there. Thank you Richard.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 11, 2015 at 11:47am

Margaret Luttrell, the call for entries for the Labor Day show goes out in December and order of application is considered. The Memorial Day show is on Zapp. Read my reviews of it for last couple years as weather can be a factor for comfort. Sales are still good. Be sure to read about altitude sickness and plan accordingly. 

Comment by Connie Mettler on September 11, 2015 at 12:23pm

(on another note, Richard, my family is talking about Estes Park for a family reunion next summer. Can you tell me more about those cottages? Message me, please.

Comment by Pat Falk on September 11, 2015 at 7:14pm

Enjoyed your review Richard.  The photos tell everything about the beauty of Colorado.  Reminds me when we used to ski there.

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on September 15, 2015 at 10:04pm

I enjoyed your photos.  You and Jean must be energizer bunnies.  You guys amaze me.


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