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Thursday, September 5, 2013

About festivals…


Jan and I both were otherwise gainfully employed when we encountered weaving.  We lived in two different counties, fifty minutes apart.  Weaving actual “stuff” was a heady experience, we made lots of it.  “We could sell this stuff” was the next thought and we looked around for venues where people sold the “stuff” they made.  We talked to people we were meeting who made and sold “stuff” and the Utica Ice Cream Festival was recommended as a good place, so we booked a place and showed up on time.

I just googled Utica Ice Cream Festival.  It is still going strong. Read the list of activities and see our learning curve.  Folks who come to a festival to eat ice cream, cheer their kids in sack races and check exhibits of vintage cars aren’t there to buy much hand crafted “stuff.”  The ice cream is excellent, however, and we made new and life-long friends travelling the same curving road as we.

At that festival we met Todd and Joni, silversmiths, with their three young children and another on the way.  Utica was a good half day’s drive from our homes, back then, and Todd and Joni lived in another small village between us.

To the day I retired I envied Joni.  Or any jeweler.  Three or four hours into my own unloading, unpacking, set up, with maybe twenty minutes to show time, Joni would come in from the parking lot with her canopy over one shoulder, carrying two large cases with handles.  The cases became the display, the beautiful silver pieces displayed on or behind glass counters.  And her so lovely, smiling, getting out this ring or that bracelet.

But back to our modest beginnings.  After the ice cream festival Joni wanted some place mats and came to the studio to select the fabric.  Jan made her five, and she wears the ring she received in trade to this day.  A couple of years later Jan met the toddler who she last knew as a baby on the way.  Mallory.

Back at the studio Jan went rummaging for anything left of Joni’s place mat fabric and found enough to make Mallory a small, square place mat.  It would fit her high chair!  Jan sent it in a manila envelope, addressed to Mallory.  Her very own place mat.

When her plate covered the entire mat, Mallory still used it.  When Mallory went to college, so did her place mat.  We saw Joni last a couple of years ago, at a local art festival, and yes, Mallory is married and still uses her place mat under something.

It did us no harm to learn from the bottom up, as it were, there are festivals and there are festivals.  Even with a “craft” tent, an ice cream festival is not an art festival.  And there is no experience to boost one’s learning curve like hearing, over the loudspeaker from the ice cream eating contest tent, “Sorry, son, it must stay down to count.’






20 comments:

  1. Dear Joanne, thanks for sharing your first experience of trying to sell your weavings at a fair. This couldn't be more timely for me. I'm going to try to sell Dulcy's two cat books at a church fair this coming Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. I'll remember your experience and not expect to make the books into best sellers at this one fair! I wonder if there will be any eating contests with children having trouble holding down what they gobbles. What a great way to end your posting! Peace.

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    1. Take a water bottle and locate the drinking fountain to refill it. You will talk to a lot of wonderful people, but it makes you thirsty.

      I'm sure you know this, but, once again, they're not just buying the books, they want a tiny piece of you, too. A personal connection.

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  2. when the Renaissance Festival started up here 30 something years ago, we set up shop for about 7 years. that was enough of the craft show circuit for me. our commission work was taking off by then anyway.

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  3. When we still did shows together we exhibited at a couple of Renaissance Festivals. After one Jan ripped off her costume and said never again. I got her to do it one more year by producing long cotton nightgowns as costumes. They resembled renaissance undergarments, and we billed ourselves as street wenches. It was fun, but the last year for us. However,exhibitors all around us said "how easy is that!" and the there was an overabundance of street wenches among the exhibitors several years thereafter.

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  4. You brought back the pleasure I had in going to festivals...or county shows...all left behind on moving to France.
    You are so right in your answer to Dee...the visitor to your stand wants a bit of you as well as what you are producing. I can remember seeing some jewellery that was beautiful...but the chap on the stand was there to sell, not to tell, so I was put off and didn't buy.

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  5. If that mat had been bought at Wal-Mart it would have been long gone by now...

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  6. Hari OM
    aaahh yess the joys of the artist. I have managed to move a few items over the years. But as Joeh points out, there are few who understand sufficiently to support. Still, Ice Cream Festivals sound like fun. Never heard of them before!! YAM xx

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  7. Fun seeing it from the other side, it has been years since I have seen an art festival.

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  8. I suppose there are festivals all over the USA now, but it seemed to me that SE Ohio had more than their share... Pumpkins at Circleville, Apples at Jackson, and Moonshine, PawPaw, Parade of the Hills, Old Settlers Days, Indian Summer (Marietta), Paul Bunyon and on and on and on. Personally, I like the art and craft shows like at Ripley, WV and of course WinterFest in Columbus (not a festival)... the thought of eating more ice cream or hot peppers than you can handle doesn't exactly appeal to me ;-)

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  9. What a sweet thought to make a tiny placemat for the little girl...and how lovely that she still treasures it.

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  10. I'm not much of a buyer anymore (as I already have a house-and-a-half worth of stuff crammed into mine) but I always make a point of stopping to browse at the craft area of any festival we go to. Mainly to talk to the sellers.

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  11. It has to stay down to count has me hooting with mirth. Thank you.
    And I love, love, love that Mallory still cherishes her mat (and Jan her ring).

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  12. 'Stay down to count'. That applies to almost everything in the competitive world, doesn't it?

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  13. Hand made things are always more valuable. Being associated with the maker, they have an extra dimension beside their usefulness, as your post shows so well.

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  14. Oh did you have to end the post on an upchuck?
    It's great to know that something you (Jan in this case) made is still in use.

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  15. I do enjoy going to festivals and seeing what people are doing and selling. I never buy a great deal, but do enjoy having an ice cream cone as I walk about.

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  16. I love the placemat story! An ice cream festival is a lovely way to meet people who then become lifelong friends.
    I haven't been to a festival for several years, but I plan on going to a craft fair this summer and get some lavender bags for my cupboards.

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  17. That is such a sweet story about the placemat. And ice cream festival sounds so wonderful. I wish they had something like that over here.

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  18. The Info in the blog is out of this world, I so want to read more. festivals in Europe

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