Thought I might post again to give you all an inside look as to what happens at a big art/craft show. We left home about 9AM on Thursday and arrived at our show venue about 3:00 in the afternoon.  We scoped out where our booth space was (had already seen the show map on the internet) and then went up front to register and get our show papers , lanyard (necklace) badges, tax forms(yes,we pay sales taxes in 5 states—ick!), and visit the exhibitor’s lounge. This promoter supplies DOZENS of boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts—a very important part of the show to the vendors!! Smile Once, the donuts were replaced with cheap, terrible cookies and there were a LOT of disgruntled vendors all weekend! Smile with tongue out  Then it is time to try and get a parking space  close to the door nearest our booth as possible.We start to unload and dolly boxes and display pieces,always keeping an eye out for a closer parking space. This time, cars and vans were being ticketed with fines from $50 to $500!! (we didn’t get one). We DID eventually get a space right at the door! YAY!! After unloading half our stuff, we started assembling our walls. 90% of the time at these shows, we find a neighbor has encroached on our space—we don’t allow it because the spaces are tight and VERY expensive. Luckily it didn’t happen this time—our neighbors were very nice about staying in the space they bought. It makes for a much more pleasant show.


Our walls are louvered doors that we bungee tie and zip strip tie together. We then stabilize them with a bar across the top locking them together. We use a different system at outdoor shows. When the doors are all connected and in place, I start hanging product while Al loads in the rest of the boxes. Each of our boxes weighs about 60-70 pounds. For a show like this one, we usually have 6 of these boxes plus maybe 3 slightly smaller ones. It is a good workout!  Remember, we have just driven 300 miles to get to the show!  This time, I nearly complete the setup before we leave—( Al doesn’t hang stuff because I usually move stuff he has put up) –we then wrap the booth with tarps and plan to get to the show early to finish setting up. It usually takes about 3 1/2 hours to set up. This time when we arrived at the hotel, they were having a Manager’s reception!! we were allowed 2 free drinks and hors doerves. (sp?) Al and I don’t drink, but because of all we have been through lately, I got a small glass of wine. (my boys are probably laughing hysterically if they are reading this ). I swear, if I smell a wine cork 20 yards away,I am dizzy. I took 2 sips and  was under the table. Smile  We went out to McD’s  for sandwiches and ate them in our VERY nice room—fridge, microwave flat screen,down comforters. Ahhhh…makes you want to blow off the show and just crash in the room!! We use a corporate lodging card for hotels that gives us close to half off prices—I like my deluxe comfy room!! Smile





We left for the show a little after 8 in the morning to finish setting up. Usually I am still doing it when the show starts at 10, but this time I finished about 9:30. Al set up the register and I moved into my little cubbyhole corner to start painting. These are photos of a couple show aisles……




This show ended at 5 each day (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). That is not the norm—many of ours end at 9 PM.That is especially rough because then you go out for dinner and get back to your room at 11.The next day starts early too!! Each day wears you down more. Finally on the last day, you are REALLY looking forward to packing up. I take inventory late in the show so I know everything I need to make to replace what sold. Set up took 3 1/2 hours, tear down took  1 hour. Of course the juggling for a close parking space happens all over again. By 6PM we were loaded, had double checked our booth space that we didn’t leave anything behind, said goodbye to friends, and we were OUTTA  THERE!! On the way home we grabbed burgers to eat on the way (and ice cream) . We finally arrived home after a 25 minute nap at a rest stop, about 1 AM Monday morning. Al was up from 4:30 AM Sunday to 1 AM Monday. Poor baby!!

After we slept a bit, I unloaded the van of all the odd things,  smaller boxes, and signs. It takes both Al and I to carry in the heavy boxes. After we carry in the boxes, Al unloads the doors. We leave the boxes packed, but repack them right before we load up for the next show. After having lunch, we drove to get a new load of lumber –we have cleaned out our own local Home Depot so we have to drive farther. Getting home, Al unloads  the lumber, I start dinner, and we crash!! Smile  Now you know why we giggle when someone says to us—It must be so much fun  to do craft shows as a living!! Smile  Whew!!  I’m tired!! Well, I actually have a Halloween order to get ready for the next  show—yep, Halloween!!  Hope you enjoyed a little look at what happens before a show opens—it is VERY hard work but I do enjoy it!!—have a great week!!–Jan


11 comments on “ORGANIZED CHAOS

  1. marly says:

    Geez. When we see the vendors at shows, we just think they are relaxed not realizing they are EXHAUSTED from all the setup and moving!

  2. Ha Ha!! Yes–we’re not relaxing–we’re trying to catch our breath!! Thanks for visiting, Marly!!

  3. Cindi Loretz says:

    That is a lot of work but just think of the lucky people that get to own your cute things!
    Be blessed!

  4. Angie Berry says:

    Oh my goodness, the cherry blossoms were gorgeous!! What a beautiful sight… that would have been worth the trip for me! =]

    Can’t believe they switched out your Krispy Kreme for cookies, what were they thinking?? Gotta keep those vendors happy, lol!

    I know what you mean about the set-up, that’s what I do when I set up at the flea market in town… only on a smaller scale and I don’t drive that many miles, only about 20. I hate when vendors are past their lines. Almost always they are not around so I gently move them outta the way! But the flea market is only one day, not 3 and I am totally exhausted from just that one day, lol. But I do it on my own so that makes a difference. It is lots of hard work but so rewarding when your handmades sell! I think it’s awesome that you and Al do so many shows and sell so much! You were cracking me up about the wine, lol… that’s me too!

    Have a terrific week~

  5. Janet says:

    Oh my, made me tired just reading it. lol

    I have just done a few shows here in town and they are only one day. That is tiring enough for me. Mel can’t do much anymore so I do all the lifting and hauling of boxes and tables. Set up. Whew! Makes my sore just thinking about it. lol

    It is so hard to stay at my booth too when there are other vendors with cool stuff to look at. 🙂

    That is so funny about the wine 🙂

    Thank you for your nice comments on my blog. Sister is doing ok I think. Got to talk to her a couple hours ago. Still need to get her and mom down here.

    Have a great week my friend.

    Take care, Janet W

  6. Eva says:

    Hi Jan….I am bloging with you now 🙂 I stilll dont know what I am doing….you need to join facebook 😀 I hope you have a great show….

  7. steph says:

    Because of this post, I am now tierd and craving donuts:) Sounds like one wild ride. I am glad you got a good room and parking space. All very important factors……Thanks for sharing. -Steph-

  8. Cindy says:

    Hi Jan,
    It was like you were discribing exactly what we go through when we set up for our shows. I don’t think most people realize what we go through to get all ready and set up for shows…unless they do shows too. And I know that we must really love what we do to have been doing it for so many years…this is my 28th year. Think it is just in my blood, because I really do love doing show even with all the craziness that goes along with them.

  9. I’ve done some shows with my friend/neighbor – and know what hard work it is. It’s wouldn’t be my chosen lifestyle!! I certainly had a new respect for vendors – yikes. Glad that you have great help – that has to make all the difference in the world. Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

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