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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The.longest.weekend.show.ever

Rochester Park is a lovely venue and the Paint Creek Center for the Arts puts on what used to be a top ten show. It's slipped to the twenties or thirties of the top one hundred, but still decent for established artists.

Art and Apples is slipping, though, and the committee is casting about for methods to regain the old glory. Sadly, committees seldom ask the artists.We know how to load in and load out, for example. There may be three hundred of us on a very few acres, but we know not to make it difficult for our neighbor to do what we are doing--setting up a show for the public to come and enjoy. We know not to turf the grass or leave our trash behind us. You get. We also know the public comes to a fair to enjoy themselves, and it is our job to see it happens.

The committee, in their infinite wisdom, has their own ideas on regaining past glory. The first is a Friday night preview. Any artist they might ask would tell them the preview is a waste; this set of public comes to drink wine and hobnob with neighbors who also dished out big bucks for a preview benefit ticket. They'll never learn, because the committee benefits from this, not the artists they don't listen to.

Another ploy is to extend hours. Now, artists can put up with a wasted Friday evening, but keeping mall hours on Saturday and Sunday is inexcusable. It changes the whole tenor of a show from the place to shop serious art to just another place to stroll ten and one half hours, eating kettle corn and leaving with nothing in the complementary shopping bag they got at the gate. Flat baggers, we call them.

So, that's the back story.

Linda was early last week because she has a new worker (not me, I'm the one on sidelines, with the cane). Linda has done this show so many years she is friends with all the neighbors who border the park. The first time I came to the show as Linda's retired roady, two young boys had a table set up on the edge of their adjoining property and were selling water. Little voices said "Water. One dollar. Water. One dollar." Linda went over and said No, No, No. It's "Water. One Dollar. Water here. One dollar." Those youngsters were her strong backs for the next many years, until one has graduated college and the other just started. She needed a new strong back, and the dad of the water sellers located one for her.

His name is Cole, he lives three door up. Cole is the coolest thirteen year old I've ever met, and I've lived with two. He could meet us after school on Thursday to set up the booth, so Linda and I just had finishing touches on Friday, before the 4:30 preview. Cole not only followed directions explicitly,  he figured out what was going on and moved along without being told. 

The weather was cool, but not bad in the sunshine Thursday night.


Friday morning we went in to arrange the shelves, and it was cold. And, it didn't get warmer. And the rain began. Back at the motel, we both realized we had not packed clothing to deal with sixty degrees in the sun. If the sun even would shine. We made an emergency stop at Dollar General, and each of us added a fleece lined hoodie to our repertoire. 

Thirty three years we have been friends through thick and thin, but never with matching hoodies. Matching name tags added to the ambiance. Linda's said Linda, mine said Cara, her daughter (who could not accompany Linda at the last minute), same last name.

Now, there's a back story here. In the eighties my sister and I did shows together. Mean people being who they are, and practically one in every crowd, we quickly were assumed lesbians by some exhibitors. We weren't offended; there's no dealing with that sort. Linda would say "No, no, they're sisters. I know their mother!" And folks would reply "That's what they say." 

Fast forward thirty some years. Here we were in the same outfit with name tags that obviously were not on mother and daughter. We could read many faces that said "Oh my God; they're married." That pretty much was our highlight of the extremely cold and very wet weekend. Laura was happy, however, to receive such a nice, soft, warm hoodie to get her through another cold winter in Grandma's house.


We did have a wonderful time with one old customer who we did not recognize as such until several minutes in. He came in with his wife (we thought) and Linda pleasantly said, "What are you looking for?" as the fellow made a bee line to a section of rugs. He replied "Someone to pay my bill," deadpan. He had to repeat it before Linda caught it (I never did), "Oh, that's him there, going down the aisle," she said. "Oops, he's out of sight now."

It only got better. As he put down rug after rug to look at his "wife" would tell him what room it would look good in. About a blue rug, "The bathroom where you have all the boats," and so on. She was very comfortable with telling him what he wanted and he just kept piling up rugs. They obviously had a good relationship, in separate homes.

Eventually he put down a fairly small rug and I remarked it would not do; he could not put both feet on it at the same time. He turned his head to look a me, but said nothing. She volunteered they were size fourteens.

Eventually he narrowed his choice to two. "Thank goodness," I said. "One for each foot." (Hey, in for a dime, in for a dollar.) He brought the two to be totaled and went back to add the one I originally nixed as too small. In his only other sentence of the day he told me "I'm going to practice standing on this with two feet. I'll tell you next year."

22 comments:

  1. Boy,exposed to the public,you really get a feel for them and their ways!
    Jane x
    PS Nice hoodie

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  2. Despite what many may have thought, it made up laugh and we both needed to do that. The arts are loaded with same sex couples and many are good friends. Art springs up from free thinkers who are who they are. Did it stop sales? One is never sure. I almost made some $$ and then spent it on buying more supplies. My Grandpa always saidk, "you have to spend money to make money".

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  3. Highly entertaining update, Joanne - thank you!!

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  4. Thanks for sharing this very nice story. I bet it was cold and wet but lots of fun!

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  5. Hari OM
    Deary me - wasn't quite sure whether to laugh or cry for ya... maybe a bit of both? It's such a slog, the market game but you do meet some 'types'! YAM xx

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  6. I'm just amazed at such a cute hoodie from Dollar General! I have to agree if they need to "spruce" up the fair, they should check with the vendors as they would know best what customers are looking for. I know when they have such fairs on the courthouse square here, they start at 9 a.m. on Saturdays (no preview Friday night) and go to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, 3 p.m. on Sundays. I love to look at what people have on display but I am afraid I'm a flat bagger.

    Cute story about the rugs and a nice sell from it too!

    betty

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  7. You have a wonderful life my dear

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  8. A wonderful update. Thank you. Re the organisers versus the artists? It was ever thus...

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  9. That was a fun story. Michigan weather is like nothing else.

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  10. I never cease to be amazed by all your goings on Joanne.

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  11. I think your telling of this tale was probably a bit more fun for us, than you experiencing it.

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  12. In the end we have to keep the good memories in the forefront, well said and I look forward to the next two feet tale

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  13. I think that's the norm... never ask the participants for their input, just have a committee decide what to do. But then, that's too logical, isn't it? Love your description of working a show.... priceless!

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  14. I live in a gray hoodie. I'm wearing it right now. I need to go to the dollar stor since it is falling apart.

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  15. I also like the hoodie. My former neighbour is an artist and has had similar situations in the shows where she's participated. Why do committees think they know all the answers? I'm afraid I've been a flatbagger more than a buyer, although i'd like to think that my mentioning some of the artists to others has brought them some business.

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  16. Enjoyed the update, people are interesting, when they're not annoying. Hate committees, hated when I had to serve on one.

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  17. they really made you stay til 10 PM? So glad I don't do shows but I'm getting to the age where I'm about ready to stop doing this architectural work. I hope fairs aren't in my future.

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    1. 'Committees" are so clueless about niche retail! They make up and enforce rules they think are the core of retail and have no idea that a ten hour show attracts WalMart people and discourages people who really want to shop. Don't get me started on the kindergarten mentality telling exhibitors how to load in and out. This one didn't issue exit passes to bring in vans until all that exhibitor's art was "on the ground." How clueless can they be. We know how we best load in and out and never hinder another artist. But, when the committee mentality goes this low, it's the beginning of the end for the show. The big league shows run to accommodate artists and their patrons.

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  18. Customers can be as entertaining as the items displayed at a show. This was a good story about a guy who didn't seem to know what he was doing. -- barbara

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  19. I have never made it to Arts, Beats and Eats and you made me think about going next year. How horrible is the parking?

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    1. I don't know about Arts, Beats and Eats; we were at Art and Apples, where the parking is too horrible to describe. When it was a first class show the patrons rolled in off the shuttle buses.
      Arts, Beats and Eats rose quickly to the top rankings, so it must be an excellent show. Since it's a street fair, I assume the parking is "horrible;" however, top ranked fairs with horrible parking always have top notch shuttle service. I'd say go for it.

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  20. I have a hoodie
    I look ridiculous

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