Running a Stall at Art and Craft Fairs and Country Shows
It’s been a real experience doing the craft fairs and country shows, but they are incredibly exhausting, even when sharing a pitch for support. All weather planning is a must, from polythene sheeting to cover your work in case it rains, to shading to protect it from the burning sunshine.
Planning the layout through a dummy run at home really helped, so I knew all the bits and pieces and tools I would need to take, from spare string and blue tac to a screw driver! My Title and Pricing labels were also typed. I invested in a few nice table top easels of varying sizes, a couple of floor standing easels, a couple of free standing print racks and a card rack. All this needs to fit in the car, and not forgetting the actual artworks! And definitely not forgetting a chair to sit on plus folding trestle tables if none are supplied.
The pitches were mostly canvas awnings with removable sides which could play havoc with the display when it was windy! There was no chance of hanging the work on the aluminium frame of the tent, unless it was super light. I always brought along a selection of reproduction prints and displayed them in print racks. A flat piece of wooden board for the racks to stand on helped to protect them from wet grass. Each piece of art was bubble wrapped to protect it in transit, so if a piece sold, the wrapper was ready.
I tended to rotate my work when the sun was shining, so no one piece was exposed all day. Particularly prints and cards which were in sealed cellophane bags. Leave them in the sun too long and the moisture inside beads like condensation, and can actually buckle the paper inside. It doesn’t look nice, but it does restore back once put in the shade. The same can happen for work displayed behind glass, so I was careful to make sure the back wasn’t tightly sealed with framing tape to allow air in.
My pitch also tended to cater for the little children to have a go and paint a postcard or paper plate.
They absolutely love it, and I love giving them the opportunity to create something they can take home with them for free. It helped to break the ice and talk “art” with customers.
In reality, the amount of work actually sold during these events was minimal. I saw the opportunity to gain experience, exposure, and hand out lots of business cards.
It’s incredibly hard work for me loading the car, being there for the fair organisers at the allotted time, unloading and setting up the pitch, and the whole thing has to be done again at the end of the day, dismantling, loading the car and unloading again back at home. Brian, my husband has done this for me for the most part. Without him I simply would not have managed.
Will I do it again? If I could wave a magic wand and turn up with it all set up, yes. As it stands, it takes me several days to recover from one event, even with the help and support. So, unless I am miraculously cured from ME and all its associated symptoms, I doubt I will do it again. Did I enjoy the experience? Most definitely!