Monday, August 26, 2013

End of Summer..Time for Fairs and Other Outdoor Shows!

Here in the country, there is so much to see and do in late August. Out here in the country, this is a busy time of year for events from horse shows and art fairs to the big Geauga County fair (a few blocks from my parents' house). As I drive to the village of Burton to see my parents, I pass the fairgrounds and enjoy seeing all the vendors setting up for the opening of the fair, which happens later this week. There are hundreds of food vendors, not to mention tractor, shed, and other farm themed vendors, setting up their merchandise. I know nothing about farming but it's fun to see all the shiny, new contraptions they sell. Mom and dad have been seeing countless trucks going by their house, from the French Fry man to the Corn Dog, Elephant Ear and Funnel Cake vehicles. What a trip this is, we always lived in the suburbs before coming out here, so it's a fun change of pace to see these things.

Framed artwork I sold in my booth at Brooklyn Home Show in the mid eighties

Years ago I used to do many types of art and animal shows, traveling in my reliable Buick LeSsbre from state to state, seeing the other vendors at the same shows each time, for the most part. We always had good luck with sales and would enjoy seeing the cities, and going to the wrap-up parties afterwards. I got to know breeders of all kinds of animals, learn as much as I could about the animals in depth, and I was interviewed a few times by tv stations. It was a good time, and I dressed up, and enjoyed each and every trade show while very young. Even got to walk around with breeders' parrots on my shoulders a few times, and get a chance to photograph birds of prey up close and personal at the National Aviary, at a show I did there. Back then I sold my jewelry, greeting cards, posters, bookbags and other items, much like now but on a much smaller scale. Then my ex-boyfriend, who was skilled in trade shows because he owned a very large wholesale establishment, took my jewelry and sold it to his customers around the country. I would provide the displays, made by my dad and myself. Those were the days.

Fast forward to now, where I attend shows but don't exhibit in them. My car isn't strong enough for interstate travel, and I'm recuperating from a strong infection that causes me to be worn out easily, but when the conditions are right, I will again do some shows because I miss the feedback of customers, and being where the action is. Being single with no dependents is ideal for doing shows out of state. It would be better with a friend by my side, of course, but I'm ok with doing it alone since I'm used to it. I plan to stock up on better displays this time around, because back in the day I was very, very poor and struggled to look as professional as possible with decent looking displays but they weren't very sturdy. This time around I'll save up and get better displays, since I'm established now and it is extremely important to be polished when doing shows, from what I look like (hence the weight loss) and what I wear to the displays themselves. It's a package deal. When I go to the fairs and art shows, I observe what people are doing, how they do it and what are the best products to use for displays. When I'm ready, I start with some small, tiny show such as a Christmas fair of some sort to do a test run, then do better shows when my confidence and stamina are improved. It's a process.

So, the fair is here soon..can't wait. My parents and I really enjoy the big book sale there, and last year there was a pet supply vendor's booth where we got some cat supplies. Then there's the food. Diet be damned during the fair! I usually get a chicken or pork fajita and onion rings, or if they have them, sweet potato fries. Heaven. We love going to see the animals, listen to a band or two and see the buildings where the many, many competitions are held. They even have competitions like frog jumping and rooster crowing! Haven't seen those yet. One of these days I'll submit one of my caramel apple crumb pies for their pie bake-off. It takes time and effort to of these days, I'll make the time to do it. They are auctioned off for good causes (for obscene amounts of money)so it's good to do.

When I did a huge orchid show in downtown Tampa, Florida at the University of South Florida campus, I got hooked on sweet potato fries. Just one big plate of an entire sweet potato, put on a curly fries peeler and it ends up a big pile of curls. To die for. And, as a big bonus, I walked out of that show with a good amount of gorgeous tropical plants (I raise orchids..orchid shows are a big weakness of mine). Fun stuff.

University of South Florida/Tampa. My art booth was close to where this photo was taken (not my to the anonymous photographer!)

Until the fair starts, I'm just working on my computer to design new products for my stores. We now carry leggings and winter scarves so I'm in marathon mode, doing those. See them at my brand new offshoot store just for apparel, TPC Studio Clothing at A pot of coffee by my side, and Farrah is up sleeping on my stereo (that is turned on, being deaf she likes to "listen" to its vibrations). Life is peaceful and good.

Farrah sleeps on my stereo, high up on my tallboy dresser in my bedroom, every night..and day