This past weekend’s Cheat River Festival Art Market was a blast, and I’m so glad I was able to participate.
The day started early, with the 1.5 hr long trek from my parents’ house in Bridgeport, WV, to the festival site just north of Albright, WV. This was my first outdoor event and the inaugural event for my new tent, so I wanted to be sure we had plenty of time to get everything set up. Setting up was indeed an adventure, but I’m sure we’ll get better with practice as we do it more often. (I have plenty of practice coming in the next few months! Check out my upcoming events in the May newsletter.)
The Cheat Fest was open from 12 to 11, and being a Cheat Fest novice, I figured the shopping traffic would be heavy all afternoon but would die down before night fell. After all, arts and crafts shoppers are early-in-the-day shoppers, right? The art market vendors weren’t required to stay open the whole time, and I had assumed that my husband and I would pack up my booth sometime around 8:00, but that plan wasn’t to be! As my booth neighbor Annie Simcoe of AnnaBellePetuniaHead explained, the attendees at Cheat Fest typically spend most of the day on the river, kayaking and canoeing, and only after the water fun was finished would they come to the festival for shopping, food, and great music.
As a result, my husband and I boldly manned my booth until late in the night, meeting some wonderful people and selling my handmade treasures left and right. While the weather was a bit rainy at times, the Cheat Fest crowd took it admirably. During the worst downpour, about 20 minutes of heavy rain around 5:30, some people took shelter in the tents, but just as many calmly stayed out in the rain chatting, dancing, and hula-hooping. After all, they were already wet from the river – what does a bit of rain matter? 🙂
The other artists at Cheat Fest were great. It was obvious from the start that this was a juried fair for which the jurists really took their time considering the applicants and working for a variety of item types. My booth was sandwiched between Annie’s beautiful handmade paper on one side and Julie Zito Apollo’s incredible crystalline porceline on the other. Julie’s mother was working the booth with Julie, and she had made darling little porcelain crosses they were giving out for free. It was wonderful to be booth neighbors with another Christian who is living out her faith through her art.
While it was great to finally participate in a really well-attended fair and while the day was certainly a financial success, I think my very favorite part of Cheat Fest was getting to spend it with family and friends. My parents and grandmother drove to the festival with us in the morning and stayed until after dinner, providing support, company, and encouragement. Dad even went out to buy me tent lights so I wouldn’t have trouble keeping the booth open after dark. My best friend from high school came and stayed for a few hours over lunch. It was great to have a fair so close to my hometown, and the timing allowed me to be home with my mom and grandmother for Mother’s Day. All in all, it was a great weekend, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be applying for Cheat Fest again in March of next year.