It’s been a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to share my review of Winter Art & Craft festival here on my blog. The show was November 17th and 18th. Spoiler alert: It sucked.

My art booth at the Winter Art & Craft Festival

My rather dark booth

The weekend started out warm on Friday but storms threatened on Saturday with swift winds and torrential rain as a cold front bullied its way through. How does this affect an indoor show? Well, I’m not positive but I do think it hinders wishy washy people from coming out. The diehards come out regardless. Like the Postman’s Pledge… Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the devoted shopper from their appointed rounds.

The show was to have a preview show for Evansville Museum members only on Friday to let the members have first chance at buying any of the locally made fine arts and goodies. That’s all fine and good, except they didn’t. They didn’t show. There were less than ten people (members) that showed up to shop on Friday night. I along with everyone noticed a lack of shoppers, so I asked just to be sure, did they advertise this show at all? According to the show promoter they advertised on Facebook and supposedly on public radio. Yeah. This does not a good show make.

This was the third year for this show and I had heard bad reviews from friends and other artists from previous shows. I didn’t listen. I should have. I wished I had. I will not return to this show again. Sadly, they do not understand you cannot have a good turn out without the proper advertisement. Vendors end up being just a way for the venue to make money renting out spots.

Right side of my art booth at the Winter Art & Craft Festival

Boo on the lack of lighting in my booth

I may sound a little bitter over this. Live and learn right? Well, if I can be a warning to any other artist out there wondering if they should do the show or not if it’s still around next year, then I want to be. That’s why I like to do reviews of the shows I do. The good, bad and the ugly. So this review of the Winter Art & Craft Festival is a full on warning to future vendors, know what to expect.

For full disclosure, I did this show fully knowing of its reputation so bad on me for falling victim. There is a reason. I was in panic mode. You see I had neglected to send in my reservation on time for my normal Christmas-time venue, Christmas in New Harmony, and they had filled up their space. Who knew they had become so popular this year? Another bad on me. Live and learn… the story of my life I tell you.

Let me say here that it is easy to fall into a mindset that things always run as they have always ran. They do not. I need to remind myself that no one is here to look out for me but myself. Believe me, I won’t be putting off getting my show reservation in on time for next year. This year, missing Christmas in New Harmony is going to hurt the bottom line for my art biz that is for sure. No better teacher than experience I always say and I was taught a costly lesson.

My hand painted Christmas ornaments on display at the Winter Art & Craft Festival

My hand painted Christmas ornaments

Not only did I miss out on my biggest show of the year, I am disappointed with the Museum show, my final show of the year. I’m poorer but wiser. Which brings me back to the focus phrase of this post:

Review of Winter Art & Craft Festival.

  • The fee was high… nearly twice what I normally pay for a booth in Evansville and the surrounding area. It was $125 for my 10’x10′ booth.
  • The lighting was horrible to say the least. The fee for electricity was $20 more. I thought as I sent in my check, it’s a museum… surely they will have good lighting, adequate at the very least. Wrong. The night of the preview (Friday) it was so dark in my booth I needed a flashlight. The overhead lighting is lacking. All the lights focus on the artwork on the wall around us and we were all in the middle of a very dark room. The next day (Saturday) we came to the show to discover they had worked on the lighting to try and give each booth a spot light, it just wasn’t enough. I was thankful though that it was a little better than the night before. (The photos are from Saturday). Was I sorry I hadn’t paid the electricity fee? I don’t feel better lighting would have made a difference in sales for this show. The buyers just weren’t there.
  • It was upstairs. Ugh… Need I say more? Yes there was an elevator but as I walked into the museum on Friday afternoon to set up, I pushed my cart through the window and light filled large downstairs area to the elevator and up to the second floor and into the dark room where the vendors were setting up, my heart sank. It was like entering a theater that’s how dark it was. I didn’t even bother to take photos, I knew my phone camera couldn’t do it without producing a blurry image because of the lack of light.
  • They combined two events in one. For whatever reason, they decided to combine a children’s event and the Winter Art & Craft Festival into one. This is bad and it was bad for both. I’ve never attended an event that was focused on children that turned out to be a good show for selling artwork. The vendors become entertainment. The kids get tired and the parents just want to get home. Money is not freely exchanged. Please don’t forget, artists attend these festivals to sell their artwork. It is not free for us and it is exhausting work to set up and be there all weekend and afterwards tear it all down. It’s emotionally taxing as well.
  • The food vendors failed to come because there was not enough people in attendance. They boasted many food vendors on the Facebook page and their website but there was only one taco truck I was told that was there for less than two hours.
  • Saturday the public just did not show up. I’m sure it was due to lack of advertising and a little bit of the weather. There was a popular craft show at a local high school on that same weekend and the reviews I read of it were that of happy vendors no matter the weather. Of course a craft show is a different kind of audience than that of paintings in an art show. But that craft show has a great rep for taking care of its vendors (helping load and unload), a waiting list for a booth and has fantastic attendance because it advertises so much. Advertising of a show is essential.

Of course I was disappointed, but It’s not all doom and gloom. I did, as I always do, meet some really interesting and talented people. I made a couple new friends and I did make a few sales. To those people that did manage to hear about the show and make it out there I am grateful. There was about one hour after the lunch hour where there were people bustling about shopping. It didn’t last long enough though and it was just the one burst.

It was a small venue, only 17 vendors which isn’t always bad. One can get lost in a sea of vendors. From what I could tell, they all had nice handmade items and I didn’t see any re-sell items which most of us artists detest. It lowers the quality of the show to have a mish mash of buy and sell items or flea market stuff. Yes, I guess my snooty artiness is showing. However, you can’t expect a good show to sell your paintings when you have competition of $5 items mass produced in China or yard sale items shined up for resell like it’s The Antique Roadshow.

Another good thing was I also acquired a handful of new folks for my email list. Even bad shows have a ray of sun. A few of the vendors I spoke with even said they had a good show, so really you do have to try things for yourself. Know your market and don’t be afraid to say no to something that isn’t right for you.

Vendors at Winter Art & Craft Festival

Not many shoppers

Vendors at Winter Art & Craft Festival

Very few shoppers

Needless to say, I won’t be doing this show again as it is now. It sharpens my thinking though for new shows. It also reminds me to not take advantage of good ones. I need to say that regardless of my experience at the museum the people that worked at the museum were friendly and as accommodating as they could be. I hope they learn from mistakes and make the show better for all in the future.

The Winter Art & Craft Festival wrapped up my shows for 2017. I am always on the look out for a good art show, if you happen to know of any within a couple hours drive I’d love to hear about it. Thank you for reading my post.

paintings by New Harmony, Indiana artist Jaime Haney

some of my paintings

If you’re new to my blog and website have a look at my ‘About’ page in the menu at the top. I’m an artist – a painter mostly and an avid gardener. I paint a variety of subjects including birds, koi fish, my gardens, ponds and flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. I try to include a little bit of mystery in every painting. I also enjoy painting abstract paintings. If you’re interested in my art, join my email list which is mailed about once a month that gives you special status for invitations, birthday greeting and more. Sign up here for it.

If you like it, please share