St Armands Circle Art Festival is the last weekend of January. There is another one I believe in November but this review is about the January show. This was our first time at this show, first time in Sarasota and our first show of the year. What a beautiful area. The show is in the park at St Armands Circle. This is a roundabout surrounded by boutiques and restaurants with the majority of the booths in the park in the middle of it all. There is an inner circle in the park with booths on both sides of the sidewalk, some off shoots from the circle and an outer ring with booths. Those of us in the park were on grass. Finally there are booths on one of the streets. About 200-250 artists I believe, an HA show. For most of us we had storage in the back, lots of storage. The quality of work from the artists were top notch.
Set up is on Friday all day except for the booths on the street. They have a Saturday morning set up. We were in the outer circle in the park. We arrived around 1 pm and easily parked inside the park to unload. Most of us can not drive up to our booths. It was a short dolly to our booth. If you do need to dolly it isn’t far for anyone. Set up on Friday we are not allowed to park on the street, you must unload from inside the park. There was plenty of staff to show us around. As a newbie to this show it was a bit confusing at first and thankfully there were plenty of people to help direct us. The weather was a little windy for set up but otherwise a beautiful day in Florida. You unload, go park your vehicle, come back and set up. It was a very relaxing set up without being rushed and the artists for the most part worked together. It was a great treat to have a Friday set up at an HA show.
The show runs Saturday and Sunday 10-5. You need to be open and ready to go by 9:30 am. People were out shopping by 9:30am and sales were being made. Actually sales started on Friday during set up. The show was packed by 10:30am. Saturday was a little breezy, it felt good, otherwise a beautiful day. The patrons at this show have big places, money and wall space. I don’t think one person told me their walls were already filled. Noone tried to negotiate on price. Everyone was qualified. Since we were in the outer circle, which is right along the roundabout, we watched work walk out and load into cars on a regular basis all day.
Sunday called for rain for most of the day. It held off until about 3:30pm. The crowd was good from about 10-4. Most of the people who came on Sunday were ready to buy. Michael did his deliveries from Saturday Sunday morning and by the time he came back from the deliveries I had to reload him. At 4 the rain pretty much ended the show and looked like it wasn’t going to stop. Normally you need to break down before you can get your vehicle. I love an HA show. They do a lot of shows and so do most of their artists. They know what we need. At 4 they closed the show and told us to get our vehicles. We were able to get our vehicle and park it next to our booth on the roundabout around 4:15. I can’t imagine being able to get out of this show anyother way with all the rain. It was a very wet break down. My rain poncho and rain boots were no match for the rain and I was soaked all the way through. But the art stayed dry. everything else not so much. We only had to deal with rain, wind wasn’t an issue. Earlier in the day HA put out cones in the street to start saving parking spaces for the artists. This helped tremendously. We were able to work together with other artists to make sure we could get our vehicles in and take turns. It was a wet load out but went as smooth as possible. I can only remember one other load out this wet and it was total chaos. Thankyou HA for knowing what we as artists need to do in a bad situation. The whole staff was there right along with us.
We drove out by 5:15. We stopped at a Longhorn looking like Euro Railers luggage in hand so we could change out of our wet clothes into dry ones. Glamorous life as artists. A hot meal and a cocktail made everything better. We were ready for the drive to our Florida home that night. I have to say I have never been more happy to have a Florida place. Monday we were able to spread EVERYTHING along the fence, driveway, boat, golfcart, vehicles, you name it if we could find a place to dry things out we hung it. I am sure our neighbors weren’t happy but screw them. We weren’t at a hotel or Airbnb. The good thing about this is we had to go through everything and reorganize. I need a force of nature to make me reorganize I think. Also the tent is really clean now, well not really clean but clean for us. No art was damaged and we had a great show.
Some advice if you do this show. There are only two hotels on Lido Key. They are expensive and not that close to the show. All other hotels are across the bridge. Between the lights and traffic 2-3 miles is time consuming. We found an Airbnb, right at artists parking, a few blocks from the show for $100 a night. Sarasota is an expensive place to be in January so book early. There are no gas stations or stores on the key. Bring everything you need with you. Normally I like to cook a few meals when we do a show, hence the Airbnb. I didn’t get it together before the show but was so glad I didn’t. There are a ton of amazing restaurants and we wanted to try as many as possible. Finally if you can, add an extra night so you can enjoy the area. We were one block from the beach and I never made it to the beach to even see it. There are some great museums as well. If we get into the show again we will definitely add at least one maybe two nights.