This past weekend we participated in our first art festival: The Lincoln Arts Festival. It was a great experience: people were super nice, the staff and volunteers of the festival took fantastic care of the artists, and sales were okay. Better than the sales was the feedback on our designs, finding out what people responded best to, and watching what people stopped to look at. Also great was talking to other artists about their experiences at art festivals. Many artists sell through festivals as their primary money making venue – 15-20 a year! We were pretty exhausted from our one in town festival, so it’s hard to imagine doing so many!
We arrived on Friday just to pick up our packet and find our booth space. Many artists had already put up their tents and loaded all their items, but we decided to set up the day of. So, on Saturday, we showed up bright and early at 7:00 AM to set up. We’d practiced setting up the tent, but still had some decisions to make, and it took about 2 hours to get everything set up. The Lincoln Arts Festival has a patron breakfast the first day, so people were wandering around as early as 9:00. We had a big football game here in town from 11-2, and I assumed business would be dead during that time, but surprisingly, that’s when we did the most business. The Art Festival staff and volunteers made a huge effort to keep us well fed and watered. Talking to other artists, I learned that not all festivals were so attentive to artist comfort, and as a first timer who didn’t bring enough water, I was super appreciative of the effort! At the end of the day we took down everything (including our tent) and left only the weights at the site. I think this was probably unnecessary, but we were worried we didn’t have enough weight to leave our tent overnight.
Sunday we arrived early again, but got set up this time in just over an hour. Practice makes perfect! Sunday was pretty slow for us, but other artists indicated Sunday was a much better sales day for them. It seems you just never know how the crowds will flow. A nice surprise Sunday was winning a raffle that all artists were entered in for art dollars that we got to spend on art at the event. We picked up a nice photograph from the booth next to us. Also, we were honored that an amazingly talented jeweler near us purchased some of our jewelry. The atmosphere of artists sharing stories and tips was a great bonus that we didn’t expect.
Sunday we got everything taken down and loaded in a half hour, and rushed home to let our poor dogs out (they’re not used to spending all day in cages anymore, but if we leave them out, we come home to unpleasant surprises).
We’ll have another post later about our displays (we got a lot of compliments on them).