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Sun Valley Center Arts and Crafts Festival 2013, Ketchum, ID

This was my first year showing at this show. As I drove through the Columbia River Gorge in 105 deg heat, I had high hopes of selling my most expensive pieces. Alas, that was not the case. Again, all of my sales were small. This is not a high traffic show so it’s hard to make it work on small sales. I had a lot of interest in my work and a lot of be-backs that didn’t come back or came back but didn’t buy. Many of the artists I talked to were either disappointed with sales or said it was just OK and down from last year. This is not to say that artists weren’t selling. Some were and some sold BIG. The art at this show was amazing and I felt truly honored to be among them. Some large and expensive work sold here. Wearables seemed to be selling well or at least had a lot of traffic in their booths. I saw a lot of hat boxes walking around. If I were to do this show again, I would bring large paintings.



This show, in its 45th year, ran from Aug 9-11. Fri and sat 10am to 6pm and Sun until 5pm. It is located in the resort town of Ketchum, ID. The Sun Valley resort is a couple of miles away. The town is at about 6000 ft evevation.



We got a message from the director a few days before the festival informing us that they had to switch set-up times for the early and late set-ups. I was originally scheduled to set up at 8am on Thursday but was switched to 2pm. I had hoped to be setting up in the cool of the morning and have the leisure to take my time and completely set up rather than finishing up on the morning of the first day. But oh well, sometimes you have to go with the flow. It was hot, but I got through it. They set up in sections in 3 hour shifts. Everyone in the section enters and sets up. Most artists set up from their vehicles. You really didn’t have much of a choice since other artists’ vehicles were blocking your exit. So I took my time. Load out was much the same, except you needed to pay the city of Ketchum sales tax to get your load out slip. Most artists at least mostly tore down before bringing their vehicles onto the field. It was all kind of a free for all, but it somehow worked. The nice thing about having the late load in was that I had the early load out.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire

Thursday night thunder storms ignited several fires south of Ketchum. Early Friday afternoon we noticed smoke over the mountains. We watched it grow. The fiber artists were worried about their wares. None of us knew how close it was. I started thinking... if we’re told we have 2 hours to evacuate, what would I take? Every day in the afternoon, the wind would pick up and the smoke cloud would appear. These fires might have dampened the crowd. When I arrived in Ketchum on Wed. and on Thurs. the town was packed with people. It was hard to find parking in town. But from Friday on it seemed less busy. The picture below was taken Friday at closing.

Other stuff

Lodging--It can be expensive here so you need to be creative.

Weather-- hot-ish Friday and Saturday and breezy in the afternoon, cooler on Sunday, smoky all days.

Celebs-- that I know of, Jamie Lee Curtis and Hilary Swank.

Booth fee-- $450 for a single ($900 double), corners are first come and are not extra.

Parties-- Thurs. evening artist party with food and wine, Sat morning awards breakfast.

Food--not a lot of selection but good. Try the huckleberry ice cream!

Other--shoes optional :)

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Comment by Lisa Foster on August 21, 2013 at 12:06pm

Given the growing fires around Ketchum I feel fortunate the show wasn't a week or two later. I stayed with a very nice couple while I was there and I think what they must be going through.

Comment by Lisa Foster on August 16, 2013 at 12:45am

Ruth, I've read that this show was better for media other than 2D, although some 2D did well. So it wasn't a total surprise. I was told from the couple I was staying with that the housing market in Ketchum had been hard hit, even for those with 2nd homes. I did see signs of new building, so maybe that's turning around.

Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on August 15, 2013 at 10:54pm

Lisa - sorry to hear the results weren't what we would expect for this show. I've always been told it's a great show, very hard to get into, but worth the effort. We've never been accepted to this show but it's one we've wanted to try for a few years.

I noticed a trend during our summer shows this year, shows in tourist areas or shows that were held on weekends that usually attract a lot of out town visitors, didn't seem to attract the non-locals. It's making us wonder if people have stopped traveling or did they get tired of fighting traffic in some of the small towns with big weekend events including art fairs? Yet one more thing we're trying to puzzle through.

Comment by Lisa Foster on August 15, 2013 at 7:43pm

It wasn't 105 in Ketchum. That was on the drive there going through eastern Oregon. That's fairly normal for there. It was 94 when I got into Ketchum on Wed and I it was a bit cooler for the show and a lot cooler on Sunday. It's hard for me to tell what the temp was, it's so dry there.

The only thing I can figure is that the fires and smoke kept people away. The national forest and rec areas in the area were closed due to fire. Hwy 20, which is the most direct route from I-84 was closed for a while.

There was more than one hat person there. I know of 2, one was felted and the other woven. I was talking about the woven ones. They were not inexpensive. My booth neighbor knew her and said she always killed it.

Comment by Connie Mettler on August 15, 2013 at 6:35pm

This is an excellent review, Lisa. Wow! We've found another good reporter. Thank you so much.

Too bad your hopes didn't materialize at what sounds like a beautiful show. Pretty strange that the town was full during the week and not so much on the weekend. Did the weather change? 105 is even hot for Ann Arbor ;) Did anyone have any idea about the cause of this? 

I admire your courage for removing your print bin. It is certainly worth a try to go for the big stuff. Any idea who was selling the hats?

Comment by Pam sharp on August 13, 2013 at 4:38pm

this was my first year as well.  of the 5 people around me. three were first year people and two were returns.  they said that last year was worst as the valley was filled with smoke.  also said that Friday is generally a look day. and sunday was the big day.   two of the three did not do well at all. and the others were marginal by their standards.  one said they would not be back.


Comment by Lisa Foster on August 13, 2013 at 3:22pm

Pam, I finally took my print bin away on Sunday in hopes of selling some originals. It didn't work :). I agree, it was well organized, the director was great and they treated the artists well. Traffic died around 3pm all days. Have you done this show before, if so how did it compare?

Comment by Pam sharp on August 13, 2013 at 2:55pm

found the same as you.  sold only one small original mostly prints and framed prints.  traffic light. I also had a lot of be backs that never materialized. I  found that the organizers were well organized and enjoyable and I really appreciate it when they take the time to thank us for coming.   enjoyed the soiree and the morning breakfast.   I only have one observation being a across from the mega booth of a photographer. 20 ft by 10 ft high  the booth was so large that it becomes a distraction from other artist booths as I watch numerous people looking at his work and completely ignoring the rest of the row.  good for him bad for rest us.  

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