Being in Wisconsin, late fall through early spring, inside venues become more the norm for art fairs.
Some are held in major convention centers. Though the show may not be an art fair, you can market your art to the show attendees.
Spring shows also may be held in the local school gymnasium and hallways.
In either case, inside setups require a different layout (for me) than outside setups.
Although I’ve done indoor shows (including the convention center shows), these are now very limited on my schedule.
Along The City Street
Some shows have booths (140 or more) all in one straight row. Half of the booths will be on one side of the downtown city street, the remaining half on the opposite side, all facing toward the center of the street.
With the booths tight against each other, all one sees is a long row of white stretching for a few blocks.
From the visitor experience, can’t you imagine the crowded feeling, and maybe even think of skipping the furthest booths on each end? (If I’m at the end, I hope not!)
Around The Block
Other art fairs use all four streets around a block, forming effectively a square.
Booths will be facing each other, much as mentioned above, on each of the four streets.
Walkway space (breaks in the booth spacing), allow visitors to move easily to the center of the square if desired.
These streets – from the shows I’ve participated in — have been quite wide. Visitors do not feel the “crushed” feeling that comes from tighter quarters of narrower streets. However, I have also visited shows that this is not the case.
In City Parks
A number of shows utilize city parks.
While the booths may be again aligned opposing each other along walkways or paths, there may be more space between each booth. Booths are then not condensed in a tight section.
Natural breaks are provided with the trees and grassy open areas. Booths tend to be placed throughout the park rather than one long row, taking advantage of the park’s terrain.
Rural Road Shows
Rural settings, such as farms and rural businesses, offer a different art show concept.
I’ve seen working farms be part of a “Rural Art Drive” concept, hosting a few booths along with their own products. The visitor drives to each hosted farm with few booths and art work.
While there may be 50 booths in the road show, there also may be 8-10 farm/rural locations on the trip. Plan a day for a show like this.
There are farms that offer art shows. Some do more than once per year, others are more seasonal, such as in the fall with the harvest season.
Farm locations are unique by their very nature – being rural and ‘off the beaten path’.
Surrounded by the active farm fields (hay, corn, beans, pumpkins, etc.), you’ll also enjoy the scenery offered with the barns, tractors, and silos.
Much different views than found in the city!
Each farm art show will be different.
Some locations will be limited to items which they sell, such as pumpkins or apples, and products made from these. Some may have a few booths, others have many.
All offer the rural beauty of the area.
Each Offers Opportunities
Just as I have my own preferences, as you do shows, you too, will develop your own preferences.
Each show offers opportunities and situations that aren’t necessarily available at others.
And - Are They Buying?
In addition to the location, the show must be run well, offer quality products with a good mix of vendors with quality artwork, regardless of medium, and be well marketed. Barring bad weather, it will then be well attended.
Whether the attendees are buying what you are offering — well that’s a discussion for another day!