Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boise, ID Art in the Park

One of the highlights of my art festival year is Art in the Park held at Julia Davis Park in Boise ID. Not only is it in my home state of Idaho, albeit 550 miles south of where I live in the northern panhandle, but it’s also one of more professionally run festivals on the circuit.

For those of you researching shows to do and are adverse to paying out a 20% commission based on your total gross sales for your booth fee, stop reading now because that is the case with this show. However if this steep booth fee isn’t a roadblock for you, I think you’ll find Boise’s Art in the Park both a financially as well as fun show to do.

One gripe many traveling artist have about particular shows is how hard set-up and teardown are. Even though close proximity parking to your booth is nearly non-existent, this festival has arranged with the Boise City Parks Department to donate their employees as well as dozens of small ATV/tractors to actually move all of you equipment and art right to your booth location. In the 30 shows I do every year this is the only arrangement of its kind I ever found. This is a huge plus in my book if you ask me.

Weather as always can make or break a show but for the second week in a row (knock on wood), we were presented with perfect temps and gentle breezes. I could get used to this ☺

Another amenity found at Boise is the wonderful artist reception dinner held after the show is closed to the public Friday evening. Free adult beverages as well as a meat eaters AND vegetarian buffet made for a great reward for the long hours of sales. Speaking of hours they were (for this year anyway) 10-8 Friday & Saturday and 10- 5 on Sunday. Ample time to conduct the volume of sales this show always seems to have. During this dinner booth awards are announced. As always, there seems to be those who complain about how these awards are judged and this show was no different. Both awards were given to Boise locals, which brought up murmurs of prejudicial treatment but in my opinion these artists were deserving.

The director offers special overnight parking permits for those who plan on staying in their RV but be sure to ask for it.

The estimated crowd of 250,000 people over this 3-day event offers the 265 artists plenty of potential customers to work with. Although a few of the artists I spoke with said their sales were down from last year, many, including myself had record sales for this show. So I think those with off sales were more a reflection on what they were showing more than a poor economy.

I love this show and as long as I’m invited to attend I always keep it on my schedule.

Booth fee – 20% of gross sales
Cost of sales ratio – B
Hours of operation – B+ (10AM to 8 PM)
Location – A
Event staff A
Overall grade A-

Art in the Park

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Swiss Days

Let me start off saying that I’ll be reporting on the last 5 shows I’ve done a little out of order. I want to get the posts that are the most fresh in my mind out now and I’ll fill in reports on Billings, MT. - Boseman, MT – and a second show in Whitefish, MT as time allows.

I’ve been doing this show (Swiss Days) for the past 6 years and as long as I keep getting juried in, I’ll continue to make the long drive south to attend.

Swiss Days is a great community event for the town of Midway, Utah. It’s not only an arts & crafts show (emphasis heavy on the craft side) but the residents also come out for the parade, barbeque and music. This show is always held on Labor Day weekend in the little town south east of Park City, UT. When I first did this show, I was a little concerned about it’s remote location. The booth fee was high for a two-day show and this, coupled by how far away from a major population center it was worried me. An hour into the show, all my concerns over attendance was dispelled. The directors report 75,000 in attendance, which seems very accurate.

Because this show is held on LDS church grounds, the event starts on Friday and finished up on Saturday. Unusual for a 2-day show but it works for Swiss Days. Fridays are always slammed and in fact if you aren’t ready at least and hour before the official start time of 8 AM you’ll miss a great opportunity to catch the early arrivers.

As I stated before, the festival is highly slanted towards country crafts. Out of the approximately 200 booths, there are only 12 or so flat artists. Bizarre I know but it works for the show. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to be included in this small group and my sales are buoyed by the lack of choices for shoppers of wall art. That is unless you include the many wooden country craft type signs makers that seem to be everywhere.

This ratio mix obviously works for Swiss Days or they wouldn’t have been around for the decades they have.

Weather is always touch and go for this event. You’re on the backside of Park City ski resort so prepare for all types of weather conditions. I’ve seen searing heat into the low 100’s as well as sleety snow so be fore warned. This year had the best weather I can remember, mid 80’s with a slight breeze, perfect.

It seems that my trend of higher sales is still continuing (knock on wood) and Swiss Days was no exception. I was up 25% over 2007, which blows my mind considering how conservative this area, and state is and the abstract art I create. Go figure.

Swiss Days

Booth fee - $675.00
Cost of sales ratio – A
Hours of operation – B (8 AM to 8 PM)
Location – B (would have been an A if it were so freaking far away
Event staff A- (a little uptight over small things)
Overall grade A-

I'm trying

OK, I admit it. Keeping a current blog journal is way more work for me than I ever expected. When I started this blog in January of this year I was on my winter break and I had an abundant amount of time on my hands.

Traveling to art festivals every weekend has limited the amount of free time I have to blog and for that, I’m sorry. Between getting ready for the show, driving to far away places, setting up my booth, maintaining the always hectic pace of meeting and greeting prospective clients, closing sales, tearing down my both, driving back home and starting all over again for the next weekend has become maddening, but I love it.

So I’m trying to figure out a way to squeeze in regular posts. Suggestions are gladly accepted.