Art Fair Insiders

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Here you go Connie, a short blog on Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts.

This was our second year participating and it truly felt like an entirely different show, different crowd, etc.  Last year we had a booth location that was close to the end of the show on a side street, plus we had to deal with the Pac 12 Championship Game on Saturday of the show and it seemed most of the attendees were not there for the art show, they were there for the game and didn’t want to buy anything that they would have to carry into the stadium.  We were less than pleased with last year’s sales but wanted to try it again, this time with a better booth location, knowing the Pac 12 Championship game was scheduled for a neutral location, etc. we went into this year’s show with higher expectations.

 This year the load in started an hour earlier than previous years, at 8 PM instead of 9 PM. We had an 8:30 time assigned, finally got to our booth around 8:50, unloaded, set up and on our way back to the RV by 10:30, much better than last year’s 12:30 AM departure from the show site.   So, Friday we started with a little more sleep, better energy and were hoping for a better start to the show than the previous year.  At the end of the show, load out was also much easier than last year, we got the truck in much sooner, loaded and headed off the show site by 1 ½ hours after the end of the show.

 Overall our sales were up 40% over last year, crowds seemed much smaller and weather was so much better.  Last year was cold, in the 50’s, which for AZ is cold.  This year we were in the 70’s all weekend, it was perfect art fair weather.  I don’t know how much of the decrease in crowd size was due to the fact that last year had a lot of attendees that were there for the Pac 12 Championship.  However, even Friday and Sunday’s crowds seemed smaller than what I remembered last year and given our location on Mill Street this year, I was expecting a larger crowd.  A basic booth (no corner, double, etc) cost $560 and for a 3 day show, sales didn’t quite meet our hopes, but were good enough that we will try the fall show again.

 The organization of this show if good, lots of volunteers, booth sitters, etc.  Hospitality booth had limited choices, was centrally located in the show so last year we never even made it to the hospitality booth, it was just too far away from our booth location.   There was an artist party Saturday evening but we elected to skip it, go home and just chill for the night.


I did get to meet other AFI’ers Pauline Haas-Vaughn and Brian Billings for the first time, got to see Mindy Kocchi, Kevin Frosch, and saw Kay Cummins & Dennis Brady several times as their booths were very close to our location.  I know others were there but I didn’t get a chance to wander much, especially on Saturday.


We’ll be back in Tempe for the Spring show in 2014 which will be our first participation in the spring show.

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Comment by steve appel on December 19, 2014 at 8:20am

On the other hand,  tempe is my best show in AZ.  I stopped doing fountain hills years ago cause it has grown to who knows how many artists and lots of buy/sell,  Show in Tucson quite a few go to after tempe, but that also is a lot of buy/sell.   I can not get into Thunderbird, so do not even try and that is true with Scottsdale.  I think it depends what you sell to say a show is good or not.  Have two friends who do clothing and they kick butt in tempe.  But Brian is right big expensive work does not do well in tempe

Comment by Brian Billings on December 11, 2014 at 11:34am

Connie, this show is on Mill Ave, near ASU. Mill is a popular hangout with lots of bars and clubs. Typically over 400 exhibitors and they average 200,000 visitors. It has been around a long time, I think around 40 years, but don't quote me on that! I would say that it is the biggest show in AZ. Being the best would really depend on what you sell. I think for decorative/functional art, crafts and jewelry it couldn't be better. I'm a painter with a price range of $100-$2500, this weekend I sold a couple small originals and sold 1 large piece on Sunday, which is down for me. Most painters I talk to sell lots of prints and reproductions and hope to sell an original. For fine art, I think Thunderbird artists shows are better, at least I have done better there. They are only high end and tend to have a snooty cleintele, but hey that's usually who buys my work! I think the best show in AZ is the Scottsdale Art show by the museum, but I have yet been able to get in!  

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 11, 2014 at 7:32am

Who runs this show? Is it in downtown Tempe? How many exhibitors? Its been around for a long time and is pretty big right? Is this the best Arizona show?

Comment by steve appel on December 10, 2014 at 5:13pm

I to had an 8:30 set up time,  they were late as normal for that show,  I did get in around 9 set up and was out of there by 10.  

Fri started out very slow, although I thought there were more people there over the weekend.   A few of wondered why people come out if the have no bags in their hands which a lot had no bags.  I was at the north end of the show, but I think those that come walk the whole thing.

My booth in 2013 was in the shade all day, 2014 moved into the sun all day.   I also paid for space behind my booth so i had a place to sit.   Fri for me was very slow, Sat better and Sun the best.   But there was a change in clientele as the day wore on.  My booth was right near the hospitality tent got over there at times.   Booth sitting was apparent on Fri, Sat, but scarce on Sun.  I only met Brian and that was at the reception they had and then on Sun.  Did not have time to walk around cause i was alone.  I do have to say the bathrooms were clean and they had special ones near the hospitality tent.  

I did see some buy/sell and they keep saying they want to get rid of it.  Teardown was a bit hectic,  my neighbor brought in a trailer and that was it for our row.   I and several others just wheel to a parking lot.   The one draw back of this show was parking for the artists.   We were on our own,  lots went from 10 and 15 to nonexistent.  

Lot of customers came in by light rail.   Also tempe, mesa and phx claimed to be working together to promote several shows taking place in the area.   Overall i was quite satisfied with my results in the end. and have already been accepted into the spring show.   Was thinking of changing location in show but i have a clientele that look for me  so why bother. 

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