With the conclusion of my weekend show at the Lake Lure, NC Fall Arts and Crafts festival, I am done for the year. It has been 20 years since I engaged in these street shows, and I did a number of them back in the late 90's in Connecticut. A lot has changed since I last engaged customers in this manner, some for the good, a little not so good.
The not so good is that these events seem to have been largely organized at the national level by just a couple of management firms, and the overhead created by them has certainly increased space rental fees. Also, I was a bit taken aback by the requirement by many shows to require participants to carry expensive liability insurance which also adds to the cost.
On the plus side, these shows are a great way to meet a lot of people and get feedback which is important to me as an artist. I really enjoy the ICM art I am creating, but it is the connection it makes with the people who see it that really counts. It makes my day when some 80 year old person comes into my show and lights up with the joy of seeing something different at an arts and crafts fair than what is the usually expected regional themed goods.
The kids too are a lot of fun. They see things in my ICM images that adults just often overlook. The most memorable one was a young boy of about 8 who I asked to tell me what he saw in one of my tissue photographs. Without hesitation, and in all sincerity, he replied "Why it is OBVIOUSLY an intergalactic vortex". I still get a chuckle out of that one, and it makes a great story for visitors to my show.
The other thing I had forgotten about doing live weekend shows, is the sense of connection one gets with the other fair participants. In Brevard everyone's tents were sagging from a huge rainstorm, and we had a lot of fun on the second day sharing stories of surviving the weather at these events.
This weekend at Lake Lure was pretty similar. With wind gusts of about 30 mph, several tents got destroyed and it became a bit of a group effort just to keep the weekend community standing. I also learned how to make polymer clay jewelry which is something I am considering for my art. I also learned how to establish and maintain a presence on the TicTok social media platform from the owner of the 'I'd Park There Candle Company'. Wayne and Tabs were very helpful and patient in getting me started on the TicTok adventure. If you are on social media at all - look them up on Etsy, TicTok, Instagram and some other social media symbol I don't even recognize. They have a really interesting business.
All in all, it was a lot of fun this year. Sales covered expenses easily with pocket money left over, and that was also nice. I'll be making some tweeks to my show lineup for 2024 and in the meantime will be focusing on my website and some of the back burner ideas I have been wanting to try in my ICM photography this winter. I hope to see you at one of my street shows next year. Just don't call my 'Eye of Newt' and intergalactic Vortex. :) :) :)