Monday, July 6, 2009

Fountain Square Art Festival

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July holiday! I was able to relax for about a day, but I even brought work home with me when I visited my family. It's early July, and that means I'm prepping for 2 big shows back to back. I leave this Friday for the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff in St. Joseph, MI, drive back Sunday night, then leave Tuesday morning for the Ann Arbor art fairs, which runs from Wed. the 15th to Sat. the 18th. It's a completely insane venture - 10 days on the road for 2 art fairs with one day at home in between.

But before all that craziness, I have to back up and report on the last show.....

Sat. and Sun. June 27-28 was the Fountain Square Art Festival in Evanston, IL. This show became somewhat infamous last year for having a microburst run through the show, destroying tents and artists' work, and causing some injuries....not to mention scaring the bejesus out of everyone there. It just so happened that I had applied for Highland Park and gotten accepted last year, so I was a few suburbs away when all this happened, dodging a MAJOR bullet, because my tent would have been in its usual spot at the intersection, where I hear most of the damage occurred. Highland Park got some high winds and scary clouds, but not nearly what Evanston did.

Needless to say, I was not so happy with how Highland Park had gone for me last year, so I decided to return to my Fountain Square, where I figured - what are the chances for lightning striking twice? (almost literally). Saturday was lovely - a bit hot, but not too bad. The crowds were good, had good sales, things were looking great for the weekend's outcome. However, towards the end of the day, the word on the street was that a possible storm was going to move in over night, so we decided to batten down the hatches. Tired as we were, we decided to lower the tent to discourage any wind from picking us up during the night. You can see in my pictures that I have 2 weights on each leg of the tent that are strapped to the top corner of the frame. In order to lower the tent, we had to detach each weight, adjust the length of the straps, and reattach the weights once the tent is dropped. The height of the tent is reduced by about half, and stays lower to the ground, therefore less chance of destruction (we all hope).

Walking from the parking garage to my tent Sunday morning, I saw a fair worker dragging a mangled tent frame along the ground. He must have seen the look of horror on my face, because he said "Yep, used to be a tent!" Thankfully, when we got to my booth, everything was intact. We set everything back up, and went about our day. The temp was a little more bearable, and it was still sunny, but the WIND. Ugh, the wind. The wind is my nemisis. Although I have about 55-60 lbs weighing each leg of the tent down, the wind still rocks the tent back and forth, which is very unsettling, and it can knock some of my displays over. I learned a few shows ago that I could C-clamp my tall bust necklace displays to my shelves/tabletop, so that is a GREAT feeling knowing they aren't going anywhere. But there are other things I haven't quite figured out how to secure.

Anyhow, probably about half-way through the day, a HUGE gust of wind came out of nowhere, and lifted the tent right in front of me straight up in the air, and it landed upside down on the tent 2 booths away. In the meantime, I grabbed the closest leg of my tent, while other random people grabbed the other legs (thank you!) to hold everything down, while you could hear chaos from other areas of the show - breaking glass, etc. A second huge gust happened about 30 seconds after the initial one - and I yelled "heads up!" because you never know what's going to fly and hit you in those situations, and I was fully expecting something to land on MY tent, since I had just seen it happen in front of my eyes. Now, I have heard many horror stories of booths being destroyed at shows, especially last year, but I have never seen anything in person (somehow I've been lucky), and I'll tell you - my heart was beating so fast, and my hands were shaking for about 5 minutes afterwards. I was going to take a picture, but my poor neighbors - they probably would have punched me in the face taking a picture of their misfortune. I felt so bad for them, their work was scattered everywhere.

So scary. There were various other wind issues - other tents blew over, friends of mine had their tents either destroyed or they simply couldn't use them....and lots of the ceramic/glass artists packed up early and left to prevent any breakage/loss of inventory.

All I can say is - I am so thankful my tent survived! Another bullet dodged....and the weekend, although a bit trying, ended up to be a successful one.

And so here are a couple more pics of my booth......

A friend said my tables looked like the bow of a big ship! I've never set up like this before - it was an unusual arrangement of booths, with a row down the middle (where I was), and since I was open on 3 sides instead of 1 or 2, I set up my tables more like a "V" instead of an "L" - I liked it!

My mom took this picture of Mike and I - her and my oldest sister, Jennifer, came out to visit for a few hours, and I took a break and went shoe shopping with them - nice!

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