Show Report: Blown Away

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Literally. As in by the wind. We’ll get to that in a little while though.

If you hadn’t heard, I was a vendor at the Vinita Route 66 Festival this past Saturday. This is by no means a fine art festival, so I didn’t have very high hopes going in, but I did it for a few reasons:

  1. I wasn’t ready in time for any of the spring shows (April/May). Had I been able to get a show in during May, I potentially may have skipped June.
  2. This was the only relatively close show I could find in June.
  3. I knew I wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel.
  4. It was a relatively short show (compared to most fine art shows), so it would let me find some problems with my setup, plans, etc. without having to deal with them for too long.
  5. I figured something was better than nothing.

On Friday, I headed up to my parents’ place in NE Oklahoma, since they live about 30 minutes away from Vinita. This meant I could leave at 5:30 A.M. to get there for the 6:00 A.M. check in (vs leaving at 3:30 A.M. from OKC, or paying for a hotel in Vinita). I knew from the weather forecast that there was a chance of storms Saturday morning, and that it was supposed to be pretty windy, but I was crossing my fingers that the storms wouldn’t happen and that the wind wouldn’t be too bad.

The storm hopes were dashed right away Saturday morning. Not too long before I had my alarm set to go off, storms rolled through my parent’s place, which meant it was storming in Vinita. However, I did get a little hopeful that the storms had come through early enough that they would be cleared out by the time we got to Vinita. We got to Vinita during a break in the storms, but we weren’t allowed to set up since some more storms were about to come through, so my Dad and I hung out in his car while this line of storms came through.

After that line had moved through, they allowed us to start setting up, so my Dad and I got to work. Most of the other vendors there had the cheap pop up tents, so my tent stuck out pretty bad. The people next to us gave us a little grief about having such a difficult tent to set up. Thankfully we were able to get the tent set up in time for the next batch of storms, which had some pretty heavy rain and some lightning. Thankfully the wind wasn’t too bad. The tent did great at keeping the water out, and I was quite glad I had my tent vs one of the cheap pop up tents.

We got as much set up as we could inside the tent while it was raining, and then finished up after the rain quit. At some point I managed to cut my thumb and another one of my fingers without realizing it and got a little blood on a few things. That was frustrating. My dad had to leave after we had most of the stuff set up, so I finished the final touch up items. It was probably 9:15 A.M. to 9:30 A.M. before I was finally up and ready for sales (the show was supposed to start at 8:00 A.M.).

Other than the delay, the storms really didn’t cause many problems. It was the wind that came after them that wreaked havoc. My dad and I had to help two different vendors with their tents to try and help prevent them from blowing away. Several vendors ended up taking their tents down due to the wind, and there was at least one display I saw get blown over. It was a miracle that nobody’s tent went completely airborne and that nobody got hurt. Just for a little more perspective, my finished tent weight (tent, PVC pipe weights, and displayed art) was ~500 lbs., and the wind was able to move my tent a few inches. My canvas racks with matted prints both got blown over. It was at this point (approx. 11:30 A.M.) that I decided to call it quits and started packing up. Thankfully my dad, brother, and brother’s fiancé showed up about 12:00 to help me get packed up. I think it was about 1:00 P.M. before we had it all packed up, and by that point, all the other vendors were gone (the show was supposed to end at 2:00 P.M.).

Thus the title blown away. Haha.

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 8.16.02 PM
Plot of wind speed and direction from the Vinita, OK mesonet site on Saturday. The left red line indicates when I arrived. The right red line indicates about when I finished packing up. Peak gusts were around 40 mph. To add insult to injury, the wind actually calmed down during the afternoon. 

In the ~2 hrs. that I was actually set up, I didn’t make any sales (which didn’t really surprise me) and I’ll probably be doing a damage assessment on all my art work to make sure no more of it got damaged other than the two matted prints I already know of. But I got some good compliments on my work, and I learned some lessons throughout the process:

  1. Figuring out how to best pack the truck.
  2. I need to do my price tags a little differently to handle the wind.
  3. I need to raise my tent legs higher to keep my walls taut. (If it wasn’t for my dad helping me set up, I probably wouldn’t have had this epiphany).
  4. I need to wear some light gloves setting up.
  5. I need to pack band-aids.
  6. I need some velcro sewn on my desk cover.
  7. I have an idea to pack my framed prints differently to make packing/unpacking much faster.
  8. I need more weight. I found out why some shows require 80 lbs. per leg.

So not all was lost. The show definitely came though in helping work out some kinks, and as I was packing up, I had a guy stop by who promotes shows in Arkansas and give me some info for some of his shows. That definitely helped soften the blow as well, but it would definitely help the morale at this point if I could get some decent sales in at a show, which is hopefully sooner rather than later.

 

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