The last Saturday of June I attended a new (to me) art show in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. It was called Mt. Vernon Riverbend Arts Festival given by the Mt. Vernon Parks and Recreation department. I think it was the 4th annual show.
I have the good, the bad and the ugly to talk about.
The good is a double edged sword really. It was only a one day, four hour show. That sounds good when you’re show weary, as I am. They are just exhausting.
Another good: It was free! Free for people to come to the show and also free for the vendors to display their works which is unheard of. So if it had stormed or rained I could have bailed and not lost out on the booth fee. (This is the reason why I did not send out invites to this show, I wasn’t positive I wanted to do it until last minute due to the heat expected). Michael Harshbarger, who is the director for the Mt. Vernon Parks Department and was in charge of the show, was very nice and made sure we all had water several times during the show.
Yet another good: It was a beautiful setting at the newly renovated riverfront. You can see the Ohio River behind my booth in the first photo. It was a very easy set up, I drove up to the sidewalk and was able to unload right there. We were told we could start setting up anywhere. Everyone seemed to get along just fine and we all filled up the sidewalk area. There was ample area for people to walk along the front of our booths and traffic was able to drive right by us to see what was going on.
The bad is, it was only a four hour show! While that sounds good that also means that I spend an hour and a half setting up and tearing down for only four hours of possible sales.
Another bad was that there were less than half of the booths that were actual art booths. There was Tupperware, Tastefully Simple, flea market stuff, etc. When I filled out the application that calls itself “Arts Festival” you expect it to really be an art show and not have all this retail type stuff. It had “No Resellers” on the app, which I thought also meant no to these home business type of resellers like Tupperware, etc.
Yet another bad: We had stiff competition. New Harmony had their Arts in Harmony going and Evansville had Shriners Fest going on. Arts in Harmony was the show I decided to not do this year in favor of doing Riverbend Arts Festival.
The ugly was just the temperatures. It was stand there and drip kinda of weather. I always record information about the show in a notebook so I’ll remember things that happened, people and other stuff and I am now going over them for this post. It shows that at noon it was 91˚ F with 49% humidity so that made the heat index 93˚ F. The wind was 5 mph SSE. The little breeze plus the shade from my tent were the only thing that saved me from passing out, ha ha. The show promoters can’t predict the weather, so it’s not their fault and actually that day was hotter than normal temps in late June are for us.
Another ugly was that it was so hot that people started packing up and leaving early. Oh and another ugly for me was my husband (who helps loads and unload my van) was out of town and I had to pack out all my 6 tubs, tables, panels and tent into my van. I was smart enough to load up the night before so I wasn’t wilted before I even got to the riverfront at least. Of course, by the time I set up the tent, 9 panels, table and 6 tubs I was a sweaty mess.
An even uglier ugly happened to the poor woman a few booths down, a little girl got sick in her booth. Ick. I’m sure the heat got to her, bless her heart. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make it a few feet out into the street to *ahem* toss her cookies. Not the greatest omen in the biz to have puke in your booth.
This is the first photo I’ve gotten of my booth “naked” and with all 9 panels. I don’t have the cloth covers I sewed on my panels because I just got 6 new panels a couple months ago and I haven’t made them yet. Even if I had the panels sewn for them I wouldn’t have used them because it stops the breeze and I desperately needed that. It was kinda nice to be so open, but I like the cloth panels too for an inside show.
With the extra panels, I can easily display my triptych and the many other new paintings I had.
I also ordered shelving brackets and now have 3 shelves. They turned out perfect for my mini paintings and Little Oddities. If you’re looking for a super easy, light and affordable system to show your work or to display anything I recommend Graphic Display Systems for sure. They are very helpful when you call to order.
I forgot to mention as one of the “goods” would be that we had live music! Clif The Drifter (Clif Duckworth) was the entertainment and he sang his heart out. He’s a one man band but he did have an occasional duet with who I think was his wife. I enjoyed his wit and music.
As I was packing up to leave, I needed help to get my tent down and Michael was there to help. He told me that unfortunately this art show has no funding so that means there was no advertising. That can make or break a show.
We talked as we tore down my booth and I found out that next year they are going to try to have it on the day/evening of one of their family entertainment nights when they have a large screen put up to show a movie. That would really attract more people to look at our art, but not sure if they would be the buying kind. Time will tell.
All in all I did pretty well considering the lack of shoppers and I’m sure it was due to the heat and the fact not many knew about the show. I’m calling this “The Little Show That Can”. I’ll probably give it another try next year. I’ll have to depend on social media to help bring the people.