Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How to Host a Craft Show (When You don't Know what You are Doing!)

Now one day I am standing outside overlooking a field behind my back yard and all of a sudden all I could see were white, blue, grey tent tops.  It came to me, sort of like that moment on those V-8 commercials; "Why can't I host a craft show?"

I have been a vendor at Craft Shows for well over a decade, heck, maybe even two.  I've worked feverishly into the wee hours of the night before the event and packed the car with everything I need and even things I probably will never use.  I convince myself that, "Sure, two hours of sleep is plenty!"  The alarm goes off and I stumble bleary eyed to the kitchen to start the coffee and fill the giant Thermos that will sustain me the rest of the day.

Arriving at the appointed venue; and always thinking that 6:30 AM is late and I have to set up quickly, I am almost in a self-induced frenzy when I finally find that one person with the ever important clipboard.  My packet is handed to me and I rip the large manila envelope and find the map.  Not that it does me any good, since more than likely, I have never been here before.  Out of the corner of my eye I spot an official looking person.  "Eureka!"  These lovely people direct traffic, help set up tents, etc.  Finally, I know where I am going.  I am already in a panic as 7:00 AM draws near. So, much like a bloodhound who has found a scent, I put my head down and start searching for my number, my spot.  "Aha!"

(Insert sarcastic tone here) Now the real fun begins.  I get to go and start the arduous task of bringing it all from the car.  Now, the really smart vendors have these great dollies that carry all -- I'm not that smart.  After about forty-five minutes of silently cursing, pinching my fingers on my tent, sweating profusely, arranging and rearranging tables, table tops and products -- I am finally done.  At this point, I realize I still have about an hour before the event even starts.  It is about now that I am reprimanding myself and swearing that next time I will get more sleep the night before and I will be more calm.  I sit on my stool and pour myself a cup of coffee.

I live in a little hamlet of New Lebanon, NY.  This town is just like every other small town in America.  Recession hit it hard.  More businesses left than came.  Once upon a time Lebanon Springs, basically down the road from New Lebanon, was a bustling resort due to its hot springs.  Gone are the little Motels, B&B's, and shops that tourists use to occupy whilst they ventured into those healing waters.

While I was telling a friend of mine about my idea, she said, "Why not rent Shatford Park?"  This is our local park, playground, tennis courts, softball field, Summer day camp, and all around town park. Michelle told me that she rents it all the time when her family has a reunion.

So off to Town Hall I went.  Never did I realize how easy that would be.  I tentatively have a date for September 25th and 26th, 2015.  On the ride home I felt as if I could accomplish anything.  I had a zillion questions running through my mind.  Walking up the steps to my apartment it started to dawn on me.  I have NEVER done this before.  I am a great salesperson and at that instant I realized I had sold myself the idea!  A very cold chill ran down my spine.  It was a feeling I'd felt before.  It was sheer terror.  How am I going to put this all together?  Where do I start?  There are flyers to put together.  There are artist, crafters to notify.  Can I get food vendors?  What other permits, etc. do I need?  Do I have enough time to do this? The questions were endless...the answers limited.

Some hours and aspirins later I decided that even hosts that have planned hundreds of of these events had to start somewhere.  So I thought the next day I would start to make some phone calls and pitch my Craft Show to some of our local talent to see what kind of reception I would receive.  I would make a contact list, note their response, etc. and see where it all will lead.