Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
For the past three weeks we have been traversing the Midwest, and in the process, doing three shows: Webster Art Fair in Webster Groves just outside of St. Louis, the Omaha Summer Art Festival, and finally Talbot Street in Indianapolis. It was our first experience at each event so I cannot make year to year comparisons. But for what it is worth, here are our experiences starting with the Webster Art Fair.
Webster Groves is a small city of approximately 23,000 residents about 10 miles south of downtown St. Louis. The venue is a large field on the campus of Webster University and Eden Seminary. There is a beautiful small downtown area about three blocks from the site where you can obtain some good food if you do not want to have what is available on site. Reasonable accommodations are available in Fenton, approximately a 10 minute drive away.
This is a very artist friendly event. At check in you receive very nice aluminum water bottles. During the event volunteers drive to the booths and re-fill them thus avoiding all the waste from plastic water bottles. It was so hot that the water golf cart was a very welcome sight. The hours are 6pm to 10pm on Friday, 11-9 on Saturday, and 11-5 on Sunday. Load in was on Friday starting at noon. Load in times were staggered to avoid traffic jams. You are led to your spot and given plenty of time to unload. There is an oversize vehicle parking lot about a block away where we dumped our trailer and a regular vehicle parking lot close by for the truck. Load in was very hot. This is an open field. There are no sidewalks or shade. Apparently it had rained a lot over the past few weeks and it felt like the sun was baking the moisture right out of the ground. After set up it was back to the hotel for a quick shower and a few minutes of rest. There was an artist dinner before the show opened on Friday night. I had not had a beer in about 6 years. But the local brewery provided their wares. The first one was really good, but the second one was even better. You could take the beer back to your booth as long as it was in a cup. There was a fairly good sized crowd Friday night but we did not manage many sales.
The forecast was for hot weather all weekend with a chance of showers. In light of the forecast the show probably should have opened earlier while it was still somewhat cool. We got there early and our tent was already steamy. Luckily the show provided electricity so we could keep our battery operated fans running all day. We had a few sales in the morning but as the weather warmed up the crowd dwindled. I sent Sara back to the hotel as there was no reason for both of us to be baked. As the day merged into evening the crowd grew and we ended up having a good day.
The forecast for Sunday was for a higher chance of rain but it held off until one hour before closing. Yes, we broke down in a light rain again. Sales on Sunday were good for us. We ended up having a pretty good show all in all especially given the weather. It seemed to us that the show has a loyal following in the community. Getting our truck and trailer in to load was going to be hard so we zipped up and went to dinner to give others the chance to get out first. We ate at a place called Highway 61 Roadhouse. The theme is the Blues Highway so there was an eclectic mix of choices from Memphis BBQ to New Orleans Cajun fare, great food and ambiance. That was the only notable meal we had, the rest was the usual stuff.
The show is very well run and the staff wants to do everything they can to help you succeed. There was a nice artist award breakfast on Sunday as well as a cooling off area with indoor bathrooms. Electricity was provided and there was ample storage behind the booths and some space between for a little air flow. We had an OK to good show with a couple of larger sales with numerous print sales. We were close to closing one last big sale at the end of the show when the rain hit. I think we would have done better if it had been a little cooler. Photographer friends of ours were happy with their sales. An abstract painter next to us nearly sold out. The abstract painter on the other side of us with a higher price point did not do as well. A metal artist that makes kinetic outdoor wind sculptures had one piece left when the show ended. I did not check with anyone else.
One thing to keep in mind about this show is if there is heavy rain you have to dolly in or out or both. In most cases that would be a very long dolly. But for us this year it was easy because we could drive right up to our space.
Sara flew home after the show. For me, it was off to Illinois to visit family before continuing on the Omaha. More on that next time.