Art Fair Insiders

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

People always ask me what my favorite show to do is and up until now I never had a really difinitive answer.  After doing the Smoky Hill River Days Festival for the last four years I would have to say this one is truely the winner.  

I have been in the demo area which means I get to do five one hour demos through out the three day festival.  This I truely love to do- the interaction with the crowd is super fun and even tend to get buyers for the pieces I am making before they are even done! I usually demo non-stop at all the shows I do but for this one I end up creating several completed pieces.  And on top of this they have fabulous volunteers that will run my booth while I demo (and are great sales people too!)

Speaking of the volunteers they are AMAZING!  In my 22 years of doing shows I have met a lot of great volunteers but the volunteers they have in the demo area at Salina are spectacular!  On Saturday I ran out of pennies and on Sunday the volunteer that was running my booth during the demo brought me two rolls!  How thoughtful!  Plus they help you haul your work in on a golf cart and are there at your every beck and call.  Being a demo artist is a bit like being royality!

The whole town- and state- comes out for this show.  On paper it might not even look like a great art fair because it has so many other activities like music and kid's events but this seems to work for everyone because the people come for the whole 3 plus days (music starts on Thursday night) and this seems to give them time to do everything- including shopping.  Now this year my sales were mostly of $100 and under items but last year I had a few $200 sales- not high end over all but the quantity makes up for it and the people are just so interested in what I am doing.

I don't know how this show goes for the artists in the Art and Craft areas but for me it is fabulous.  This year we had some terrible winds on Saturday and I really felt for the artists in tents.  I was super lucky to be on the non-windy side of the picnic shelter and had at least one show this summer that I didn't have to deal with wind.  

I also want to point out that I heard that Karla Prickett that runs the show is retiring so I hope they can find someone to fill her shoes.  She was wonderful to work with and just fabulously organized.  She really cared about the artsits and worked extremly hard.

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Comment by Layl McDill on June 19, 2014 at 12:04pm


You missed perfect temps this year- but lots of wind on Saturday.

As for the donations- I really like that program.  I think it is much better than donating to a silent auction where adults can get something at a discount.  It teaches the kids to be art buyers.  Of course I am lucky to have items that are $5.50 for other artists I am sure it is harder.   

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on June 18, 2014 at 2:58pm

A lot of shows ask for art donations, and then the artworks are either sold to help a charity cause. When we did the fine art show part of Smoky Hill in 2012, artists were asked for a donation which would then be used to sell to children under a certain age. I've seen this type of situation at other shows as well, but the Salina group only wants to offer the art to the kids for a price of $5 or less. I just didn't understand that aspect of the show at all. $5 isn't realistic for anything anymore no matter what a person's age. People spend that on a fancy latte daily. I don't think that a $5 per piece art show helps cultivate future art buyers, either.

But I really liked the committee there and appreciated the show. I just didn't want to go back since it was so bloomin' hot. I don't much like summer shows.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on June 18, 2014 at 1:43pm
The kids art experience is also a nice feature of this show. Parents of the kid that bought my belt also bought belts. More about this show in my blog with comments by Barry and Barrie.
Comment by Layl McDill on June 18, 2014 at 12:10pm

Oh sorry about that missing detail- It is Salina Kansas.

Comment by Greg Little on June 18, 2014 at 10:46am

Glad to hear you enjoyed the show so much..Making money is most important...but making money and really enjoying the show you are doing  is icing on the cake, gravy on the rice  ...or whatever you use to describe it. Where is Smokey Hill? You did not mention what state it is in.

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