Craft Fair Postmortem: Granville Art Affair

This past Saturday morning, like so many recent Saturday mornings, my husband and I woke before dawn to pack the car and head to a craft fair, this one located about 40 minutes east of Columbus in Granville, OH. A terrible storm rolled through Friday night and early Saturday morning, so we packed the car in the rain and drove through rain the whole way.

Weather forecasts for the day predicted that the rain would continue, at least intermittently, so we were somewhat apprehensive about fair turnout. However, the organizers of the Granville Art Affair and Wine Festival seemed to have done their job in terms of advertising. While not packed, fair attendance was good. Lots of families came with their children, and couples strolled from booth to booth. Even better, the weather managed to hold on Saturday (although it was terribly hot and humid, and I got a sunburn on my back and neck), and Sunday was a balmy (although windy) 72. All in all, the Granville Art Affair was a fun and enjoyable experience.

As always, the fair provided a great opportunity for networking and gathering tips from my fellow crafters. My husband and I are still fine-tuning our booth setup, so we were particularly interested to see the setup ideas of more veteran craft show artists. The beautiful folding shelves in Catherine Tietz Boring’s booth caught my eye, as did the innovative use of floor space in Lisa Edwards’ booth. Before my next fair in July, I’ll be experimenting with various setup options and will most likely build a new display method for my wall plaques (more info in future posts). I certainly came home with lots to think about.

Another important take-away from the Granville Art Affair is the importance of all-weather preparedness. While I chose to do all my setup on Saturday morning, artists were allowed into the fair grounds Friday night, and many others chose to take advantage of the early setup opportunity. However, the storm that rolled ferociously through Cincinnati on Friday night also hit Granville, ruining the tents and wares of several vendors. The fairgrounds included several open booth spaces left by artists who were unable to participate in the fair due to weather damage to their tent, goods, or both.

Lisa Edwards shared with me her trepidation as she checked in Saturday morning when the attendant warned her of the extensive damage. Luckily, Lisa is an experienced craft fair participant, so she had her tent and her display stands well weighted to protect from wind. She also covered all of her art pieces with plastic to protect from rain before leaving the fairgrounds Friday evening. Lisa was one of the lucky ones, but the experience of those who didn’t fare so well has reinforced in my mind the importance of preparation against the worst that Mother Nature can throw, not to mention the absolutely vital role liability and damage insurance play in the financial security of any business.

While I escaped any impact from Friday’s storm, I wasn’t quite so lucky come Sunday. The weather was gorgeous, but the wind was relatively strong and constant throughout the day. Before the fair started Sunday morning, my husband and I taped down all the display stands and wall plaque holders, but the wind still outsmarted us. While the display stands themselves did just fine, barrettes and brooches were swept off the display stand arms as gusts of wind blew through, and one plaque after another tipped out of its stand. We ended up rearranging the merchandise display halfway through the day, which improved the situation somewhat but meant that potential customers were reluctant to enter our booth while we were actively rearranging. I’ve been lucky, I guess, that my outdoor fairs so far have taken place on windless days. However, as I work to incorporate some of the booth setup ideas I gathered from other crafters, I also intend to look for ways to mitigate the wind effect on my display.

I don’t have long to wait to see how well my ideas work: two more fairs (Second Saturday Street Faire and Dublin Art Fair) are coming in July!

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About JennJill Designs

JennJill Designs provides the handcrafted goods of Jennifer Jill Araya. Visit www.JennJillDesigns.com to learn more.
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