Chil-E Festival 2007 Re-Cap

My review of the annual Chil-E Festival, held this past July 20th, 21st & 22nd (2007), is over a week late this year. I’ve been busy preparing a few new fall season jewelry and I just put this on the side burner until now.

There were some changes this year for the vendors and one change was that vendors would be open for three days, as opposed to two days in years past. Once again, I doubt I could have gotten through the event without the help of my husband -many thanks to him!!!

It was actually kind of nice to set up on Friday and it was slow enough that it gave me the opportunity to choose a display set up. I always have at least 2-3 set up ideas in mind for every show, especially if it is being held outside, because Rochester weather can be so unpredictable. In any event, I had ordered a bunch of new necklace displays for this show but they did not arrive in time so I went with Plan B, which ended up working out just fine because once again (I swear the weather here knows when I’m doing a show!) it was windy and would have ruined my first display choice.

Sadly, again, there were a few too many jewelry booths. And I heard this sentiment echoed by attendees as well. In fact, I was a little perturbed as well to (again) in a show be placed right next to another booth selling jewelry. I realize those pulling together a show are doing the best they can, but they really must realize, regardless of how “different” they feel our craft may be it does not help to be placed next to, or across from, a booth in the same category. I can be rather adamant about this because although it might be true we are all artists in our craft, I run my business differently and I use different techniques and materials. To be placed next to someone who has made a dozen or more of one design and/or has used base metal in their designs, does not allow customers to see my work for what it truly is. In fact, my strong thoughts on this were somewhat soothed when the gentleman in the booth next to me came in to talk for a brief time, and he commented on how nice it is that someone knows their craft, the materials that go into it, and actually makes a unique piece based on an inspiration. These declarations to me were a result of a conversation with the booth artist on the other side of him (jewelry -surprise!) who stated, “Oh, I just threw those together last night” (referencing her dozen or more of bracelets made in the same design).

Now don’t get me wrong here. Everyone has their design ideas, preferences for materials and value of time. But when I have put alot of time, effort and thought into my business, materials, niche and marketing, it can get frustrating to be in shows where individuals have created jewelry, in masses, and is selling it at costume jewelry prices. I do get that, I really do. But, if that is what craft shows are suppose to be about then alot of artists would simply stop doing them. And to be fair, on the flip side, I’m sure I’m also in the wrong shows as well. But I admit, once again, due to time constraints I missed the early deadlines for all the quality artist shows. (Note to self: that won’t happen next year!). BUT, I have always felt partial to the Chil-E Festival because that is my home town, where I live.

Enough of the show-box opera! Although windy, the weather was good, the attendees were pleasant and the show was a success this year. Confession: I don’t really know why the show was a success. Sounds like a vague analysis for a business owner but it’s true. I don’t know if it was because the weather was better (which brought more people), or if people were in an open frame of mind (to buy quality jewelry) or if it was a result of the market testing changes I made that show. But, it was a good show and my faith in my craft was restored. In fact, there were two lovely ladies from Tennessee, visiting relatives in Rochester, who purchase jewelry from me. They were so pleasant to talk to and I respect the fact that they appreciated my craft for what it truly is -Unique Art. The success of this years show was rounded out when one of these lovely ladies contacted me to create a custom necklace to complete her bracelet and earring purchase. I was very happy to accommodate and was so glad to be able to get it to her before she left Rochester. I know she’ll enjoy it for years to come!

It was without doubt a long weekend. In fact, I (along with my dedicated husband) spent the whole week of the event running around in the evening for additional display items and such. With the show over, we get home Sunday, happy with the results of the show, tired and glad it’s over, only to find a box on our side porch of all my new necklace busts! I was so tweak, all weekend, with the vendor for not shipping it in time for the event that it never occurred to me that maybe it was a shipping problem. Again, not that I would have been able to use that idea anyway. For the most part, UPS and FedEx leave our packages on our front porch (we have a wrap around porch, front to side) and we can see them when we arrive home. Well, for whatever reason FedEx decided to put the box on the side of the porch but never left a note on our door telling us they did that. So we never found this box until Sunday evening when we arrived home and opened our side porch door. Would it have been that difficult to take a brief moment and leave a note on our front door?

But for all its ups and downs and for the number of other jewelry vendors there -it was a terrific show and I look forward to next year.

No comments