Monday, July 12, 2010

Pitfalls of An Outdoor Show and the Girdwood Forest Fair

These frames were popular with decoupag-ed vintage sheet music on thrift shop frames.

Numinosity Beads on display at the Girdwood Forest Fair.

Various necklaces made with wire lace which I've recently been playing with.

I made this display from an old shot up tractor mower cover that I found in the woods.

Some of my altered art pieces being debuted.

My friend's daughter Annali is pooped and takes a nap on our stump. I was wishing I could do the same!

Doing outdoor shows always seem to have their pitfalls. Weather can make such a difference in sales and comfort. Setting up for an Alaskan outdoor show calls for even more preparation especially if it's in a mountainous area. I've been at festivals where I have worn sunscreen and shorts and with in an 18 hour period switched to raincoat, long johns, mudboots and fleece!

The Girdwood Forest Fair is a seven hour drive for us to the base of Mount Alyeska which is the best downhill skiing in Alaska. We go past Anchorage to Turnagain Arm to reach it.

It's been several years since I've been set up as a vendor but I decided it was time to give it another go around. I quit going after a few years ago trying to do it solo for a three day show that goes on until 9 PM every night. The perks of this show is some of the best art vendors in the state are set up. They jury for 100% Alaskan made products and the local music is also some of the best in the sate.

I was fortunate to be set up near the stage so that I could listen to it from my booth all day.

One of the things they warn you about when you sign up is that since it's pathways through the forest you can expect some tree roots and it's also pretty much a socked in and rainy area as well. I had lucked out in the past with nice weather. 

My husband agreed to take a couple of days off from his work to help me this time which was a huge factor in my decision to set up this year.

We checked the weather forecast before we set out with my little Teardrop trailer camper that tows behind the Subaru. Bad news... rain , rain  and more rain was predicted.  I got really depressed and even got teary-eyed at the prospect of a three day rain festival. It didn't help when Dave reminded me how much money he would lose by taking off work.  On top of that my booth neighbor friend Heather's husband has a very sick dog apparently on it's last legs to attend to and she now has no booth help either.  Dave  comes to the rescue for pee breaks and food runs!

We had another one of those stunning rides through the mountains past glaciers with beaming sunshine. Remarkably the rain never manifested at Girdwood the days we were there, only conveniently at night after we shut down. I did have to wear a down jacket and long johns, hat scarf and fingerless gloves those days as I seem to always get cold just sitting still like that.

Now for the pitfalls- They gave me quite an undesirable booth spot which consisted of very large tree roots. I followed  rules of the printout and set up at the more nearly level spot measuring two feet from the path. My other booth neighbor warned that I may have to move back. We tried to search down the booth coordinator but were told she had left for awhile.  
Searching for rocks and wood pieces to make my tables level we finally had it set up best as possible for the conditions. 

Then along came the booth coordinator that told us that we had to move back several feet  and that this was the only booth that needed to be back further than the two feet in the printout. This put half of the booth in a hole, a hole that would have 8 inches of water in it if it rained.

  We had to move everything again, do more propping and leveling and were left with a space to park our chairs in the hole. We had a food booth next door that used our back yard as their workspace since we were on a curve in the path it was debatable where our backyards began. They were already set up with their grilling area which put the grills two feet from our heads with our chairs in the hole with another massive tree stump behind us effectively penning us into that one spot. Luckily we had the forethought to bring some survival vodka drinks to surreptitiously sip our way through any discomforts.  We must be thankful that  the salmon patties were not as popular as the ribs they were serving next door because the breeze blew the grill smoke right at our faces for every order.

I wish I could say that the sales were great enough to make up for it but with all that wonderful competition from the other 150 booths I was disappointed in the outcome. It was our duty however to make it worthwhile and attend the dances and music that was playing around the little burg of Girdwood all within walking distance. It was enough to wear me out totally after a couple of nights of all of that Making It Worthwhile. My neighbor Heather had a banner weekend  though. Nothing like selling hats when the weather is somewhat inclement.
I did a couple of nice trades though and cashed in on a massage for both Dave and myself.

All in all it was fun and exhausting and a lesson learned to not try to set up at that show again but I would be happy to attend as a playing customer next time.


  1. Yep, I think we have all experienced the outdoor fair life.
    At least you're looking on the bright side of things.
    And I have to laugh cause I sell hats like a mad women at the outdoor fairs, its kinda evil huh...
    Take care
    PS your booth looked fantastic!!

  2. yup, tried it here and couldn't take it! CO is the kind of state where you need a parka in the am and an air conditioner in the afternoon... you must be pretty tough!! oh wait you live in Az AND alaska!! YOU ARE tough!! LOL!!

  3. What a struggle, and I cannot imagine the work that goes into getting there, making and hauling, and the driving you both do, herculean! Glad the weather held
    at least...I loved your repurpose tractor hood! xox Corrine

  4. Your pieces and the way you display them is so interesting (whether the weather cooperates or not).

  5. It's so unpredictable with shows, especially outdoors! Looks like you had some beautiful things!

  6. Sorry the weather and the boothsite wasn't real great... Your set-up looked really great though from what I saw in the pictures!

  7. oh no what a pain to be put by a grill stall whilst nearly falling down a hole..the drive up sounded beautiful though..I have been watching the Travel Channel over here this morning and it was showing Alaska with the fisherman..beautiful place..good luck with your next outdoor show its bound to be better

  8. Kim I wish I could have been there for the fair. Your display from the old tractor looks so cool!


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