Arts and Crafts Show Reviews 2013--September

Mattoon Street Festival
Simsbury Women's Club Arts & Crafts Festival
Newtown Arts Festival

Mattoon Street

Mattoon Street again this year proved to be an excellent show.  We were blessed with exceptional weather and therefore heavy traffic.  They claim to attract around 4000 people and do a great deal of advertising, including tv ads.  Bob McCarroll and his committee accepted over 100 artists and artisans and my quick tour found a great selection of talented people. No resellers that I saw.

This show has become a favorite for several members of the Artisans of Western Mass.  A quick survey of the group found that most do well at this show--metal sculpture, fine art, fabric, paper and jewelry.  Though one jeweler may not be back next year due to low sales and another artisan who makes bags hopes to move to a better location as she feels that affected her sales.

Mattoon is an L shaped street that can be entered off Pearl St. or off Chestnut St.  Those at the Chestnut St. end felt traffic was thinner and people entering from there didn't come back after strolling the length of Mattoon.  Those on the Pearl St. end felt traffic was steady.  I had never heard this before but I'm located in the center so I seem to get people coming and going.

The organization of this show is excellent and should be after 41 years. There is the option of a Friday night load in which makes the weekend less hectic.  You can drive right up to your spot on the street for load in and load out.

Mattoon has a small food court and the committee gives vendors $5 in coupons to use for food.  They send volunteers to spell you for bathroom or food breaks and then come around with cheese and hors d'oeuvres around 4 pm on Sunday to say "thank you."  And several types of musicians stroll the street periodically.

There is one problem that I encounter every year, however.  Load out is chaotic.  Everyone pulls up their cars, on both sides of the street, at about the same time.  The traffic jam is exacerbated by the food vendors who inhabit a small driveway at the curve and need to load onto large trucks.  Fortunately they are really good drivers but it gets a little hairy for a bit until they leave.

Yup, I took 2nd place in the jewelry category!  Yay.  And again my friend Kathleen Anderson beat me for  1st place with polymer clay jewelry.

Simsbury Women's Club Arts & Crafts Festival

I set up a booth at this Connecticut craft show for the first time this year.  This is a great 1 day show.  Unfortunately it's 2 days long.  To be fair there were at least 3 vendors who did very well both days--one a bead jeweler, an herbal vendor, and a woman who sold felted purses. A silversmith who had very little business on Saturday seemed to be having more traffic on Sunday.  I hope she had some more sales. But most of those I spoke with said that Sunday was disappointing.  Traffic on Saturday included lots of buyers, people looking for gifts and several who purchased jewelry for themselves.  That was encouraging.  Saturday I took note of many designer bags and shoes on many of the women customers.  Sunday brought in a very different crowd--mostly lookers, families just there for something to do, and people who come in to try on several pieces of jewelry but don't buy anything.  

This is the Women's Club 44th year and they are very organized and advertise well.  But though they claim to get 6000 in attendance, I don't think they made that mark this year.  Traffic wasn't as heavy as Mattoon St. last weekend and they estimate 4-5000.  The show takes place in a parking lot on Iron Horse Blvd. There is the option for a Friday load in.  You can pull your vehicle right up to your space.  Each booth space is 15' deep so there's room to store things behind the tent.  Cars are parked in another parking lot on the next block.  There are restaurants within walking distance.  The women's club has beverages and baked goods for sale.  And vendors get a free cup of coffee each day.

Other than the "garlic girl" who seems to be at every show I do this year, I saw no questionable vendors.  There were several jewelers but all seemed to be quite different from each other.  Lower priced jewelry was selling quite well.  Though I did sell 3 more expensive pieces, most sales were under $50.  There is a good variety of items for sale at this show--soaps, holiday decorations, clothing, tie dyed, bags, purses, felted hats, pens, and one whole row of fine art.

The cost of this show is $150.

Newtown Arts Festival

The Newtown Arts Festival is a multi-day event of varied activities that culminates in a weekend 2-day craft show and music festival.  This was only the second year for this craft show so I will be kind in my review.  It takes place at the Fairfield Hills Campus, a large expanse of lawn with plenty of room for many tents and the large tent set up for music.  Stacey Olszewski is responsible for the craft show, jurying, mapping out the craft show area, and general communication about the show.  She is very responsive to emails and questions.  You are able to unload pretty close to your booth space and there are a group of volunteers to help unload and load cars. 

As a new show that's part of a community event, the majority of vendors live in and around the area of Newtown, CT.  Many don't do a lot of craft shows and have make shift set ups.  Many were also jewelers.

Though vendors received a map a couple days prior to the show which indicated where we were to set up, that map changed a couple of times on the morning of the show and some vendors were moved in the middle of set up.

The event is well advertised and Saturday had pretty descent traffic (can't guess at numbers) when it wasn't raining.  Though I appeared to be the high end jeweler at this event, I did well on Saturday and was happy to sell mostly metal clay pieces.  Sunday brought a different crowd and I sold far less.  This tends to be a recurring theme.  Felted bags and knitted items  (only 1 vendor) did very well.  As did the vendor with lawn ornaments created from vintage china.  The jewelry vendors I spoke to said they were doing "ok" but, as usual, I'm not sure what that means.
But my guess is that they were a bit disappointed.

The show booth fee is $120.  There is real potential here for a very good craft show unless the plan is to keep this as a mostly community event.  It takes place in a well-to-do part of Conn.  Hopefully as more vendors apply Stacey can be more selective and accept fewer jewelers.