Art Fair Insiders

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

Smoky Hill River Festival- First Treasures

Just finished up my fifth year as a demo artist at the Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, Kansas.  Once again I have to say this is my favorite show of the year even in a heat wave like this year!  As a demo artist we get treated like royalty and I only pay 10% commission for my booth (with a cap at $325).  Everything at this small town festival is done right from my point of view and one of my favorite programs is their First Treasures program.  

They ask artists to donate any number of pieces they would like.  Then the kids get to come in and shop without their parents.  Kids as young as 4 years old go into a big tent and pick out something for $5 (everything is priced the same regardless of value).  Now I know some artists complain that they usually don't have product that is valued so low but I don't think it matters.  You are donating just like you would for any other fundraiser.  And really this is MORE than a fund raiser- it's teaching the kids to be art patrons!  And I have seen the results.  Every year I see kids that have saved their own money to come and shop in my booth.  I would say I had up to half a dozen such purchases this year from young shoppers - spending as much as $40.  Someday these kids will grow up to be the art patrons that really make our shows!

And this year I had my largest sale from a mother who told me she always checks to be sure the artists she buys from are First Treasures contributors.  She even said she almost bought from one artist but saw they weren't contributors so she went on her way!

Of all the great ideas at art fairs out there I think this is one that should be emulated everywhere!  Has anyone else seen similar programs?  Have they also been successful? 

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Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on June 22, 2016 at 9:46pm

I have never seen shopping for kids done before in a show but I love the idea.  The price is right and it is a great fundraiser idea for the show.  I can see most parents handing their kids $5 and sending them in to buy something and it isn't that awful junk sold to the kids at those Secret Santa Shops at the schools.  Maybe other shows will see this idea here and add it to their shows.


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