I really feel like a big girl now after doing my first show in a Flourish Trimline tent at the Laumeier Art Fair last weekend. So, here's how it went...
Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis Missouri
Dates: May 6-8, 2022
Hours: Friday: 6pm- 10pm
Saturday: 10am - 8pm
Sunday: 10am -6pm
Number of artists: about 150
This was my first time at this show in person. I participated virtually in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID.
Load In: You can load in on Thursday between noon and 4pm or on Friday before show opening. Because of weather predictions, a lot of people set up on Thursday. I set up my tent on Thursday since it was a new Trimline I hadn't put up before. It took me about 2.5 hours to get it up and running. I brought my artwork on Friday. I was able to drive right up and check in on Thursday. Because my booth was in a "special" area, I was led by a golf cart to a back parking lot near the amphitheater and the nice volunteer helped ferry my stuff up the hill to my tent via golf cart. Everyone else had to line up at the check in point and wait for someone to lead them near to their spot. It had rained heavily all week so most people couldn't drive right up to their spot and hand to cart it in. I had an open corner booth (not under the giant tents in the center of the field), so I had lots of space for storage behind my tent. I put up 3 awnings to help with the rain we had on Friday. Booths under the big tents only had 3 feet of shared storage behind them. I had a little trouble setting my my Trimline for the first time, so I asked the kind, tall gentleman across the way to give me a hand. (Thanks, #thunderskyjewelry)
Weather: Friday rained on and off all day. We arrived at 2pm to set up for the 6pm opening and barely finished getting art on the walls. The temperature dropped a lot and we were all mostly wet, cold, and miserable. I sold one $1 post card on Friday. Not a good start. Saturday was glorious. Sunny, high of 75, and they put straw down on the muddy bits of the field, so it wasn't too squishy. By the end of the day, most of the field was in decent shape. Sunday was windy and a little cooler, but mostly sunny. No rain. People showed up. It was good.
Sales: I am pretty new to upper end art shows. I started doing my work in November, 2019. Terrible timing, I know... This was my best selling show of my 25+ years of doing conventions, markets, craft shows, and the few art shows I have under my belt. Crowds were steady Saturday and Sunday. Great conversations. Wonderful questions. Lots of compliments. My booth was right in front of a giant deer statue, which brought a lot of families and kids running right past my outer wall of the corner booth (I had a mesh panel up with art on both sides), and it helped with visibility. I sold 10 of my larger pieces and numerous note card sets, which were new. I was very pleased with sales.
Surroundings: The venue is in a park along what we would call a ridge. There are booth spots situated under very large tents along the spine of the ridge. About 20 booths fit under each of these giant tents. This area is fairly level. The 2 rows of tents on either side of the central giant tents are sloped. I had to set my back legs of my Trimline up 3 notches from the front to be level. Electricity was free, which was fantastic, since Friday had hours until 10pm. There were way too few bathrooms, and the lines were long. There was an art station at the end of the rows of tents for kids to make art and they had a few entertainers of that end too. They had live music towards the front, which wasn't too loud or distracting. I found most of the other artists there had high quality, beautifully presented work. All of the other artists I spoke to were very friendly and my neighbors were so kind helping me roll up my walls in the morning.
Amenities: There was an artists tent with decent coffee, soda, water, and snacks. Volunteers would make the rounds and ask if you needed a sitter for a break or a snack. They even gave you a phone number to call if you needed a sitter. The golf cart folks drove me from my car in the artist parking lot to my booth Saturday and Sunday morning, which was awesome, as I had a lot to schlep by myself.
Awards: Many awards were given out, although I did not receive one. I saw a few jurors wander through on Friday night but none of them engaged me. One of the new awards was specifically designed for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color), which I thought was super cool.
Load Out: This was bad. Because of the heavy rain on Friday, the fields were still pretty muddy. They had to tightly control where people drove and the line of cars to load out went all the way up the service road (maybe a mile) to the main road. There was a small fleet of golf carts available to help get your stuff to the parking lot if you were willing to go that route but it would have taken us 4-5 trips in the golf carts, so my husband waited for an hour in line to drive up to collect our stuff after we finished packing everything away. It took almost 3 hours to break down and get everything loaded. There was no rhyme or reason as to the order of people loading out, so navigating through the maze of trailers and piles of tent parts was difficult once we finished loading stuff into our van. Communication between the volunteers was great for the most part, and they were all super helpful and kind. All in all, I think they did the best they could under the circumstances.
In summary: I found this show to be enjoyable, profitable, and fun, despite missing our annual Mother's day brunch my family throws every year. I had very good sales, great conversations, and met some fellow artists I know from Art Fair Lounge. Everyone associated with the show was very nice and tried to help as best they could under the circumstances. Our impression was that the staff was concerned about artists' success. Because I'm local, I drove home every evening and slept in my own bed, which is always a bonus. I am excited to participate next year. #karendeguirecreations #laumeiersculpturepark #laserart #artist #myfirstartshow #trimlinetents #lasercutwood