Gaithersburg Olde Towne Fest (September 2012)

Location: Gaithersburg, MD

Day of the Week: Sunday

Weather: Warm with a Breeze

Organization: Before the event, there was plenty of  information about load-in, zones, and directions to the event.  Staff was available throughout the event to help answer questions and help finding parking.  Parking for vendors was extremely close by; I could have unloaded (with a cart) from my parking spot.

Crowd: A bit smaller than advertised.  Still, I had enough customers.

Crowd Make-Up: Mostly families, primarily Hispanic.

Booth Fee: $70 for a 10′ x 10′ space

This was a good show, but not a great show.  I will probably do it again.  I have a feeling that the event will grow as time goes on.  The organization of the event was great.  I got plenty of information, was directed quite efficiently during the event, and there were no obvious mix-ups of spaces like you find at some shows.  They also had done a lot of advertising beforehand.

On the other hand, there was a definite difference between being near the food trucks (lots of people and relatively peaceful) and being near the train station (extremely loud and a much smaller crowd).  At least five times during the event, a train came through the fair, blaring its horn and rumbling.  It was impossible to hear or even think with the noise it made.  I know that the organizers cannot control the train, but they should not put vendors so close to it.  It really interfered with sales.

On a more personal note, now that the oppressive summer heat is gone, I am seeing a lot more bees in my tent.  They smell the floral essential oils, beeswax, and honey, and flock to me.  I love seeing them buzz around the booth.  I had one hanging out on my scarf for a few minutes even!

I know that some customers get scared away by them, but I find them soothing.  One little boy was in the booth with his mother and he saw a bee on the ground.  Instead of having my reaction (joy), he freaked out and stomped it!  Then, he and his brother proceeded to watch in fascination as it struggled.  I was horrified and heartbroken.  Here I was, welcoming the bees and enjoying their company, and he just killed it with no regard for its right to life.  It made me feel guilty for having drawn the bees over, however inadvertently.

Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival (September 2012)

Location: Catonsville, MD

Day of the Week: Sunday

Weather: Warm with a Breeze

Organization: Before the event, I had trouble getting confirmation that I was accepted.  I had to email them myself after I got a receipt to ensure that I was in.  I never really received any parking passes or snail mail info, so I was quite stressed going to the event.  During the event, things were very well organized.  They found my space with no problem, it was easy to load in, parking for vendors was nearby, and staff was readily apparent for questions.

Crowd: Great crowd!  While the streets weren’t packed booth to booth, I was never bored and always had customers to talk to and work with.

Crowd Make-Up: Mixed.  Families, older couples, teenagers, young parents, everyone.  All of the people I spoke with were interesting and asked intelligent questions.  Lovely people.

Booth Fee: $125 for a 10′ x 10′ space (if I had signed up earlier, it would have only been $75)

What a great show!  Despite the stress of getting to the event and not having paperwork, the event went without much of a hitch.  My truck had broken the night before and I had to cancel that night’s show (which was unfortunate, but really, I also felt pretty sick, so not that unfortunate), but in the transfer of materials from broken truck to my boyfriend’s wagon, I had forgotten my booth signage.  Luckily, I live less than 5 miles down the road, so I frantically drove home, grabbed my sign, drove back, and still managed to set up the booth in its entirely in less than an hour!  I rock.

The weather really helped make the day spectacular.  The sun was shining, but it wasn’t boiling like it had been all summer.  There was a bit of a breeze, but not so much that it knocked things off my tables.  It also brought out a lot of folks.  The only real downside to nice weather is that it brings out the browsers.   When there’s bad weather, you can be sure that anyone who comes out is a hardcore shopper.  When there’s good weather, you get everyone.

All in all, I would say that this is a must-do event for me.  If I can only remember to apply early, then it will be an even better show!