Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

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.

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Comment by Sharon " Sherry" Wilson on October 21, 2009 at 5:01pm
I attended the show as a spectator having beeen not invited to attend. I was pleased with what I saw. I thought the set up was attractive using the walkways so the show meandered through the park. There appeared to be a good mix, attractive displays with most artists available to the public, not just sitting behind their booths. I did pick up one item to look at that was was stamped with a company name that did not match the artist, but that was the only thing I saw. I was very pleased with what I saw and will work harder on my photos hoping that will be the key to an invitation next year.
Comment by Connie Mettler on October 21, 2009 at 10:05am
I just came across the list of prize winners at this event. $12,500 in prize money, not bad for a "kind of under the radar art fair". Here's the info from the Orlando Sentinel:
Comment by R. C. Fulwiler on October 14, 2009 at 9:43am
Yes, the quality is first rate, but remember this show is "Florida Artists Only" For instance, the painter John Thursby won best of show. He's no slouch!
Comment by Connie Mettler on October 14, 2009 at 9:22am
LOL. I never thought of Garry as a little John Wayne, but I think you've hit the nail on the head! Not of huge stature as you say, he seems always to carry off the sales in a very big way.

Thanks for this report, R.C. Although I'm very familiar with the March Winter Park show have never read anything about this one. Would you say that, in general, the quality is comparable?
Comment by Bert Herrera on October 14, 2009 at 7:47am
Hey RC, I think you and Gary must have been the top dogs for the weekend. I didn't make expenses. The artist with the butterflies across from me didn't make booth fee, and she wasn't the only one who said that. I'm heading to Bethesda this wkd, and the forecast calls for 50% chance of rain Sat and Sun with highs in the 40's - the other end of the spectrum.
Comment by Nels Johnson on October 14, 2009 at 5:46am
Boo,hoo,hoo. And here I thought I was getting killed in the cold of Cleveland. But I guess my $1800 wasn't bad versus what I would have done in Florida. Again, with temps (your case,oppresive heat and a so-so economy) it is hard to predict what we are going to make out there. Nice report though. At least you gave some meat. And to think you had a conversation with a "tiny" John Wayne. We will have our computer hooked on until we leave sometime on Friday. Hope to make Cinci,Fri. nite, then Atlanta,Sat. and home sweet ay. Aloha, Nels

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