Arts and Crafts Show Reviews 2012 -- February - May

Handmade with Love--Easthampton, MA

Amherst Sustainability Festival

Mayfest--Bennington, VT

Handmade with Love -- Easthampton, MA
This is the second year for this craft event.  Two members of the Artisans of Western Mass. organize this show and they really have their act together.  It proved to be a successful show for a typically poor time of year to have one.
This is a small event that takes place at Eastworks in Easthampton.  The room is small and only holds a little over 20 vendors.  Both years it took place just before Valentine's Day. So people with greeting cards, the candy maker, and some of the jewelers do well.  And it's really difficult to predict who will sell well each year.  In 2011 I sold mostly steampunk jewelry.  So I brought mostly that style to the 2012 show.  But I only sold 1 piece of steampunk while I sold a lot of fine silver.  So you never know.

Aviva and Karen do a lot of work advertising this event and it pays off with good traffic.  They collect sponsors and offer goodie bags to the first 50 people as an incentive.

Load in and out is pretty easy.  The venue is below the street so there are stairs but there is also a ramp for dollies and anything on wheels.  And the distance from the parking lot to the venue is short.  Cars need to be parked behind the building during the show.

This year's fee was only $45.  The show is worth a try.

Amherst Sustainability Festival

This festival takes place in April and 2012 was it's 3rd year.  This is a festival that brings out local vendors specializing in products that help sustain the environment, local music groups, demonstrations from the karate school, etc.  There are a small number of crafters on the Amherst Common as well and the weekly farmer's market is set up on one end of the park.

This event has no booth fee.  If the weather cooperates, there's plenty of traffic, though many are regular farmer's market goers who wander through the festival out of curiosity.  Most people were not prepared to spend money.  Our few sales were made entirely with credit cards.  The first year of the festival we did well, selling over $400 worth of jewelry.  This year we brought home only $100.  Some vendors were definitely doing better than we were and a few sold almost nothing.  As for what was selling--primarily children's clothes and accessories, tote bags, some jewelry (in my case lower priced items), and scarves.

The event is well organized.  Stephanie is very responsive to emails and questions.  Load in is pretty easy as there isn't much traffic early in the morning.  We quickly found a parking spot and loaded in from South Pleasant St. just above our space.  By late afternoon traffic is pretty heavy, parking spaces on S. Pleasant are difficult to get, but we were able to find a spot on Boltwood Ave. across the common.  Though it's farther the surface is flat and easier with heavy items.

This one is worth a try only because it's free to set up. 

Mayfest -- Bennington, VT

Each year on the 3rd Saturday in May Bennington hosts its annual Mayfest. The booth fee for this show is $130 with a $15 application fee.  I've never done this show but I did attend it this year & spoke to a few of the vendors.  

Bennington blocks off one of the main streets in town and craft, food, and reseller booths are set up in the street and on the sidewalks.  Yes, resellers.  Members of the farmers market are set up on one end of the street, there are food vendors here and also on a side street, and a few local businesses set up tables with chocolate or pastry.  

Loading in was easy as you can drive right next to your spot.  And there's plenty of parking on adjacent streets.

This show is very well attended.  If I had to guess I'd say there were possibly 5000 people.  Musicians are set up in 3 locations and this year a local tap dance class performed and boxers exhibited their talents.

There were 4 members of AWM selling at this event with varying degrees of success.  The jeweler has done this show for 4 years and says it's a "good" show, not great.  I never did get her definition of "good". An herbalist was unfortunately set up across from the music and next to another herbalist and wasn't having one of his better days.  

While this is billed as a juried craft show, I saw hoola hoops, woven imports from Central America, mass produced jewelry and t-shirts, and carnival type blow up aliens.  Also, there didn't seem to be any thought put into where vendors were set up.  All the jewelers were on one side of the street and a couple of silversmiths were right next to one another.   
The vendors I talked to seemed to agree that customers were buying lower end, inexpensive products.  This probably means that the resellers did well as their prices were much lower than the artisans'.  In the past they got traffic from neighboring states--New Yorkers who were willing to spend on quality products.  This year that didn't seem to be the case.

I went to scout out the show and see if it was a good fit for me.  I concluded that my silver would be a hard sell and the customers appeared to be too conservative to buy steampunk.  I won't be applying to this one.


  1. Thank you so much for your amazingly informative reviews Jan. Always appreciated!

    Also, thanks for the lovely review on Handmade with Love. We definitely appreciate it!

  2. Agreed. This event is changing and introducing low end resells. The prestige of the handmade, mid to high end art and craft has all but diminished. I will probably not be applying next year and they will receive an email.

  3. It's sad that another show is caving and allowing resellers in the name of profit. If they're not getting enough handmade vendors applying I'd prefer to see a smaller but quality show.