Art Fair Insiders

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

Security issues: On the lookout at the art fairs

Security is always an issue at the nation's art fairs with smaller events not having to pay much attention to it but the large ones that attract 100,000's of thousands of people beefing up their staff to insure the safety at their shows. When the Super Bowl was in Detroit a few years back I was on the staff and went to a meeting with not only local police but FBI, Homeland Security and border patrol officials speaking to us and briefing us on what to do. It was very sobering.

Texas' big show the Fort Worth Main Street Festival is taking place this weekend in the shadow of Monday's tragic occurrences in Boston. Festival organizers surely had their load increased in preparation for the event as they redoubled their security plans. The Fort Worth Police Department is deploying additional uniformed and undercover officers, as well as bomb-detecting K9 units, to areas in and around all large public events, said a city news release.

Suggestions that will be helpful to artists not only this weekend but going forward:

The release recommended signing up for a free service at, where the Fort Worth Office of Emergency Management warns of natural or manmade emergencies in the area with texts and/or email.

Festival guests are asked to follow Homeland Security's caution: "If you see something, say something."

But because it's a free festival with 20 points of access, monitoring what people bring into it would be difficult, said spokeswoman Clair Bloxom.

"If someone saw a person leave a backpack at an artist's booth, you'd definitely want to report that to a police officer," she said. "We're encouraging people not to bring backpacks."

Guests also are asked not to bring coolers, said Jay Downie, event producer.

"If you bring a bag, keep it on your person," he said. "Any unattended bag will be confiscated."

Views: 824

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on April 19, 2013 at 8:52pm

Times sure have changed.  I have gone to events where anything you carry in is searched.  It is just a sign of the times unfortunately.

Comment by Elle Heiligenstein on April 19, 2013 at 9:22pm
We all need to be hyper vigilant now. I have worried about some of the larger shows I am in this summer that draw tens of thousands of people, especially the ones that have the art fair, music festival and other high attendance events. We should all be on guard and report anything unusual or suspicious.
Comment by Richard L. Sherer on April 20, 2013 at 9:48am
I will just pass on an observation from shows done in Colorado. Because I sell leather holsters, I get to see those prople that carry concealed handguns at art shows. Very surprising as you would never suspect. In includes off duty FBI and other law enforcement who are required to do so, to "soccer moms" with Glocks in their handbags. This is just part of life in western states and a fact of life in Texas. Reassuring in some ways but vigalence is always the way go. Jean and I also have a "pass word" to use which means drop what you are doing and get Security. This has been mainly for intoxicated people and kids on something.
Comment by Connie Mettler on April 20, 2013 at 10:26am

You have got to see a lot that most of us don't see, Richard. Thanks for the idea about the "password", useful for all of us.

We have "open carry" in Michigan and there was a big ruckus about this a couple of years ago when one of our big festivals had it written into their contract that no open carry would be allowed. The event was taken to court, big news carried all over the news, and the open carry people won. There were a few holstered guns at the show but most people were very hostile to it. Here is the rest of that story:

Comment by Jeff Hamman on April 21, 2013 at 8:53pm

You might be suprised how many artist and customers have CCW's here in Michigan. The password is a good idea but how many of us do shows where there are no Police and the "security guards" are armed with a 2 way radio or a cell phone.  In most cases we are still the first line of defense at shows.  I totally agree we do need to be vigalent ourselves but we also need to look out for others too. If nobody is in your tent / booth, don't read that book (you shouldn't do that at show anyway) look around at the other artists around you. You need to be their eye's when there busy.  During set up I will take a walk around my tent and if I notice an artist who is alone at the show, I'll let them know if they need "help", give me a yell and I'll do what I can, to help with what ever the situation. 

Comment by C Z Williams, Painter on April 22, 2013 at 1:47pm

Another thing to look out for is light-fingered people.  At an art show I was doing a young man carrying several bags wandered around.  At one tent he bent down on one knee supposedly checking his bags but his hand was in a box under the artists table.  When seen, he left, then we found out that an artist on the other end of the show had a wallet taken and remembered this young man.  It should be common sense, but do not carry a purse to a show or stash your purse/wallet, etc in a box thinking it is out of reach.  Keep your belongings, money and card processing stick on your person in a "fanny-pack" bag.  I know most of us do this but there are still a few who are too trusting.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on April 22, 2013 at 4:07pm
Maria, yes you can. You will meet a lot of other women who do shows by themselves. Join the Tough Gals" club, sell lots and have fine with this business. Don't be afraid to ask your neighbor to help with set up, take down or watching your stuff for short break.
Comment by Larry Schneider on April 23, 2013 at 8:53am

I know one woman craftsman that had her fanny pack slit with a razor and the kid ran with the money.  I tried it and one quick easy  swipe with a SHARP razor or knife will slit the belt easier than  butter.  Look for fanny packs with a metal or plastic reinforcement in the belt.    Another  good approach is to screw a key lockbox onto your work table .  Cut a slot in it to slip in charge slips.   As for backpacs it is good to start being vigalent __________  __________ ---- comment deleted



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