Winter Park is a well-to-do suberb of Orlando. The fall show is held in the same park where the spring show is held, but it has fewer artists (maybe 200). When I am able to get into the spring show, it is always my best show of the season surpassing Gasparilla, Mainsail and Coconut Grove. I therefore had high hopes of having a really good show. These are my people!
I returned to Florida early this year (right after Louisville) in order to do the Winter Park Festival. I have applied for several years and have only gotten as close as the wait list. This year I got in. We left Michigan's 50 degree weather and arrived in Florida's 100-year record setting heat (95 and humid).
We went over to Winter Park Friday afternoon and killed time until sundown to set up. Most of the booths were already in place. The heat was oppressive but we were able to pull into the park (crossing the RR tracks) and unload from about 30 yards away from our booth space. You can't drive into the park, but the fringe is assessable. Garry and Rita Seidel were setting up across the fountain from us and we had a good time drinking beer and trading insults (he likes to think he walks like John Wayne, I had to add, "A short, John Wayne).
The show opened Saturday at 9 AM and a crowd was present when we rolled up our sides. Breakfast was available both mornings. We had a corner booth with space behind and 2 sides. It was perfect. Our neighbor said we had the spot he was in for the past several years. This year he said he couldn't afford the extra $50!
Sales were average in the morning and by noon we were between 3 and 4 hundred dollars. We had one sale over $100. We ended the day at $600. Garry and Burt (Herrera) came by often complaining about low sales. Steve Vaughn and Dick Cunnimgham also had little to praise. There were good crowds but poeple were not buying.
The show was top quality and the judges came around and picked a piece or two for judging. The awards dinner was well attended, but while we were lined up drinking beer and wine waiting for the food to be served it began to rain. Have you ever seen an artists stampede?
All semblance of order faded away and it was every man/woman for themselves. Fortunately, Kim and I had plans to have sushi with Garry and Rita after the awards were announced and didn't have to vie for sustenance. We, therefore, were able to maintained our dignity.
Sunday was a 9 AM opening again and it was in the high 80s. By noon it was 95 and breaking records. Sales were near to nonexistent. Again I had one sale over $100 and did $300 by the end of the day. I felt lucky. Many did not make booth fee. At closing time the clouds were building and the cops were swarming. This is a show that is held along a busy double railroad line in downtown Winter Park. Two years ago, an artist in a van pulling a trailer along the tracks got a front wheel caught over the rail and suddenly heard the wail of an Amtrak train coming into the station. He leaped for his life and lived to tell the tail! He is a friend of mine and told me it pushed his engine all the way to the back of the van.
So, the cops are reluctant to give us a free hand at loading out. I had to cart out about 70 yards over the 2 railroad tracks: it was anything but easy and then the rain came. It poured for an hour and it almost fell good to be wet from fresh water as opposed to sweat.
I think I'll pass this one next year and stay in cool, cool Michigan an extra week or two.