Thar she blows!
— Artists at the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival
Yesterday we had a long drive; we were returning from Fairhope, Alabama where we participated in the Fairhope Festival of the Arts. The show, in its 64th year, is put on by the Chamber of Commerce. Fairhope is a charming town that sits on the cliffs and shoreline of the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Downtown Fairhope, where the show took place, is a quaint downtown with thriving retail, beautiful parks, and great restaurants.
Fairhope has a small town atmosphere, and what really struck us was the pride in the community that was shown by the show volunteers, the Chamber, and mostly the citizenry of the town. The town was so clean and inviting. We watched as people went out of their way to locate trashcans to throw their trash away, and to offer support to the artists at the show. We could all take a lesson in civic pride from Fairhope.
What we didn’t expect was the terrible winds and weather that we experienced.
Doing a retail show always has its risks but having winds of 40-50 MPH rip through the show was downright scary. We set up on Thursday night at 6 pm under a relatively calm sky. Then, at about 8:30 that night, a sudden and seriously crazy thunderstorm rolled though. For the artists already set up this quickly became a disaster – somewhere between 20-30 booths went down and far more lost their art. In some cases their art, as well as their booth, went blowing down the street.
When you have conditions like this, all the weight you have and can put on your canopy is likely not enough. It’s rather like being in a sailboat with really strong winds and yet you don’t want to go anywhere – it is an extreme challenge. We survived the ordeal intact; we had about 100 pounds in each corner and the display attached to the canopy as well. We had some poles on our canopy bend a little and a few tears in the nylon but we are very thankful to have such a small amount of damage. It was scary to realize we had been shoved 18” away from where we put the booth during set up.
The town once again showed its compassion the next day when citizens were coming up to us asking if we were okay and had our art been damaged and wishing us all the best. It was clear they were concerned for the show participants and their well-being. Thank you Fairhope!
For artists who are trying to make a living at shows, please support them with your dollars knowing that they often endure some very harsh conditions and still will smile and entertain you the next day. We always come home with new fun art and fond memories.
To all our patrons who supported the show and came out despite the rain and wind – Thank You.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What are your favorite Art Fairs? Have you ever experienced "less-than-perfect" conditions at a show? What was the most perfect and enjoyable show you ever attended?