My Festival Fiasco, Part One: An Overview

105053-498828-thumbnail.jpgKeeping my chin up & maintaining a positive outlook are among the traits I'm proud to consider a part of My Personal Standard Fare. At times, though, this tendancy comes with a honkin' pile of challenges. This festival, about which I've been blogging my anticipation for a week or two, is among such recent challenges.

I want to say nice things. And I will, too. There are nice things to be said. But I'll have to tell you about the challenges too. It wasn't a good day.

From the time our tent was fully erected yesterday, sometime around 7:30-8:00 am, until we started packing up at 1:10 pm, it wasn't a good day. There's no other way to put it. Dena, my booth partner, who came to sell her hilarious cat humor book, Lessons in Stalking, will no doubt attest on her own blog when she's successfully extracted the lingering wet cold out of her bones. 

The weather was the culprit. Sure, it'd be gratifying (from a childish, mean-spirited, unkind perspective,) to blame something/someone more accountable. But as I'm neither mean-spirited (mostly,) or unkind and almost never childish for longer than a few minutes running, it's the weather I'll have to blame. Aside from all that, this is a solidly established event, backed by The Resources of A Whole Southern Town. Even when we arrived downtown and saw the small city of tents that had already been set up, no doubt by seasoned veterans of the event, the air was filled with a sense of solid confidence that in spite of the weather forecast, the throngs would come out. I've heard they always have, in spite of the weather. Perhaps that feeling was stronger because the rain had not yet truly arrived. Perhaps, too, the confidence was peppered by necessity. You can't have your event coordinators and regular vendors anticipating failure before the official start of the day. (And it must be said, my rant is meant only to address our own booth's experience rather than that of the overall event. I've spoken with noone official who can confirm the level of success of the average vendor. It also must be said that I truly do care about the fate of other possibly-unsuccessful participants, and also for the planners of the event. I'm incredibly sorry for how they've been affected by this out-of-their-hands turn of events. But today I'm feeling kinda' selfish in my disappointment, so I'm gonna' go on about my own experience. So ya' know.)

105053-498836-thumbnail.jpgHaving checked in with the friendly and capable coordinator, and received our envelope for submitting the 10% proceeds donation, we drove off down the tent-lined road toward booth number 940. The long, long drive both boosted our confidence, ("This thing is huge!" we uttered more than once,) and depleted it with thoughts of Where On Earth Is Our Booth and Who On Earth Will Walk That Far?

Having arrived in what we came to think of as the Unfortunate, Unfashionable Neighborhood of this festival, (In retrospect, surely newbies such as we and our neighbors can't have imagined we'd be given desirable booths in the center of activity???) we set about putting up the tent our friends Margot and Susie loaned us when they gifted us with The Booth Proper when they realized they wouldn't have the inventory needed to fill said tent. After Other Friend, Leslie, arrived to help us set up, (she's not a vendor at all, just not scheduled for anything else on this dark, drizzly Saturday Morning, and feeling Uber-Generous beyond what either of us felt we'd ever offered another friend,) the tent was completely covering us and we were about to start unfolding tables to drape in lush, green velvet, when the rain started up again. It had rained off and on throughout the night. Now keep in mind, I live about 35 miles away and East Coast Weather is never predictibly consistent even within a single county, much less across county lines. But wavering though our forecasts may have been, the most solid information I was able to get during the end-of-week we've just completed, eventually said with fairly strong assurance that the weather was not gonna' be pretty.

It wasn't pretty. 

You'll note I'm writing this on Sunday. No doubt the Asheboro Fall Festival is already heating up again. (Poor word choice, but I've mentioned I'm an optimist, right?) But I won't be there. Nor will Dena.

Stubborn women, both of us, we loathed the idea of closing up shop while our neighbors waited it out. (Although indications strongly suggested others weren't far behind us.) But how many copies of her books should she have to sacrifice toward the gamble that some of the increasingly unhappy, rain-soaked patrons would want to buy one of the unsoggy copies? And how many times should I be willing to grab another display component before it fell to the ground again? I lost one necklace to the wind when my newly-turned-out screen was caught by a man passing by and it fell off the copper hooks onto the ground. I can't tell you how many times I was lucky enough to catch others before they plummeted onto the road.

So we eventually had to let go of our stubbornness in lieu of the salvaging of our "babies." Long before noon, we were both soaked thoroughly and in spite of the layers of warm clothes and jackets we'd brought, everything we had was wet, as were our comfy folding chairs, as were the ends of every piece of Glorious Green Velvet we'd lovingly laid over our tables. I'm talking about the kind of wet that comes from hours of gentle and heavy rain that's intermittently borne sideways, and never, ever seems to seriously consider abating, even for fifteen minutes. The kind of wet that soaks into your bones and recalls the worst moments you can conjure into your memory.

In Part Two, I'll write about the lessons I learned. Lessons that affirm what I'd do again and therefore, what I feel I'm doing right. And lessons, too, concerning things I'd do differently if presented with the same circumstances. Lessons that inform my journey as a designer of jewelry who really, really wants to get her work seen and worn and enjoyed. Lessons that remind me of how important it is to pay attention to intuition and to subtle signs as well as the bold encouragement of event supporting folk.

Now I think I'll go do a completely different kind of work. Plenty of time later this week for glazing, wire hammering, booth-preparation considerations for next week's Pottery Festival. Which is gloriously, happily, exuisitely inside, out of whatever weather nature might bestow on us a week from today.