Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Duck Creek Days! Fun For Everyone!

Duck Creek Days are held each year during the last weekend in July, in Duck Creek Village, Utah.  This is a lovely little community in the Southern Utah Mountains that sits at an elevation of 8,400 feet.  It's a terrific place to go to escape the heat at lower elevations.

View of the meadow just behind the main area of Duck Creek Village, UT

This event includes a Chili Cookoff (probably the biggest deal), a rubber duck race, live DJ during the day, live music in the evenings, and a two-day arts & crafts event.  This is truly a "something for everyone" affair.

We'd heard mixed reviews from other artists.  Since it fit in our schedule and the booth fee wasn't exorbitant, we thought we would give it a try.  If nothing else, we would get to sit in the beautiful mountains for three days. 

The Village of Duck Creek is a single road along the edge of an enormous meadow.  The meadow is home to all of the activities during the event.  As the meadow is private property, there were several restrictions on the application; no camping, no pets, proof of business liability required at check-in (or sign a waiver protecting the property owners and Duck Creek), no alcohol, no driving through the meadow during open hours (advertised 10 AM - 8 PM both days), booths must stay open during advertised open hours.  We can live with all of these things.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon to check in and were escorted to our spot by a friendly lady on a four-wheeler - yes, this event is that big.  She reminded us that we couldn't camp on/in the meadow (as we had our Lance behind the truck), and encouraged us to find her if we had any other questions.

Our spot was back in the trees to the left of the entry road.
Set up was quick and easy.  We left the meadow and found a lovely place to spend three days in a nearby Forest Service Campground.  Life is good.

Friday morning, we stopped at check-in as instructed on Thursday to get a vendor parking permit and the wifi password.  We figured that was when our evidence of insurance was going to be requested (as stated in the pre-show materials).  No one ever asked for it.

We drove around the perimeter of the event, and were puzzled by the significant number of campers, travel trailers, motor homes and tents set up along the route (no camping???).  We just love being able to park our truck right behind our booth at shows, which was what we got to do at this one.

After making sure all our items were perfectly displayed, cash drawer was loaded, etc.  We opened for business right at 10 AM.  There were hundreds, if not thousands of people strolling through the booths all day long. Interesting to us was that perhaps every third person had at least one dog on a leash (no pets????).

As the morning turned into afternoon and afternoon became evening, we noticed that the pet-walking patrons had shifted from soft drinks to openly displayed cans and bottles of beer (no alcohol???).  Really confusing was that operators of inflatable kids rides were towing in their equipment as late as 3 PM on Friday (no driving through the event during open hours?????).  Although none of these things had a direct impact on us, we both find it incredibly annoying that the rules only apply to some people.  Come on folks...  if you're going to make the rules, then stick to them!

The actual Duck Creek, not far from our campsite
The foot traffic Friday was just amazing all day until about 5:30 when it just simply stopped.  It was quite fascinating how deserted the entire event was.  Not having seen anyone but other artists/vendors for almost two hours, and noticing that only about half of the other booths were already closed or in the process of closing, we shut down at 7:30, breaking the rules that didn't mean anything anyway.

Saturday was just as crowded with people as Friday; the big difference was that Saturday they were spending money!  We were busy all day until, again, at about 5:30 the crowds seemed to disappear.  It wasn't quite as empty as Friday, and the few people left proved to be buyers.  We started tear down precisely at 8 PM and were completely loaded in the truck by 8:40 - a new record!  All in all, sales at this show were good enough to put it on our schedule again next year.  But regardless of what the pre-show materials say, our tiny dog and show companion, Maggie, will be with us!

Here is our rating, on a scale of 1 (atrocious) to 10 (spectacular) for Duck Creek Days:


Load In/Load Out  10
Availability of show organizers during show 10
Overall layout and traffic pattern 10
Mix of show 10 (everything from actual arts/crafts to made-in-China schlock to hot tubs to window insulation kits and restain-your-cabin products!)
Show matched pre-show materials 1
Parking for exhibitors 10
Overall rating  7

Weather Expectations: Temperatures at this elevation this time of year tend to be high 70s/low 80s during the day and can drop into the 40s at night.  Bring a jacket!  Afternoon thunderstorms are common, too.

Who should do this show? This show is appropriate for any artists, crafters or resale vendors.  It is not juried.  The booth fee of $75 is reasonable.

Would we recommend this show to other exhibitors? Sometimes

Will we do this show again?  Probably

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Never-Ending Discussion: Is It Handmade?

I'm a lover of all things handmade...  from the simplest crocheted bookmark to the most intricate oil-on-canvas, and everything in between.  All artisans and crafters, regardless of medium, use tools.  Jewelers use saws and rock tumblers, potters use wheels, painters use brushes, metalsmiths use hammers and grinders....  In my case, my major tools are scissors, needle, thread and my sewing machine.  I am occasionally told, that because I use a sewing machine, I cannot say that my work is handmade - only because one of my tools is electric.

Here is my sewing machine - an eight-year-old, low-end Singer.  It's an absolutely wonderful and reliable tool.

Now, anyone who is familiar with this kind of machine knows full well that if your two hands - and in this case, also a foot - aren't involved with it's use, nothing happens.  It takes the user's hands to use the tool to attach two pieces of fabric together.  In my case, that would be appliqué.  This tool was designed to sew in straight or near-straight lines.  I've been able to master the task of making this tool sew in curves and sometimes even in circles.  But again, without my hands involved in the process, the tool just sits there.

My argument is this - my quilts are completely handmade.  Like any other artist or crafter, I use tools - some of which are powered.  There are no hands-free steps in my work.  Just like the jeweler using an electrical tumbler for stones, the painter who's tool is an airbrush, the metalsmith using an air-powered grinder, or the potter using an electric wheel, my hands/heart/brain and even soul are involved every step of the way. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Brian Head Arts Fest

The Brian Head Arts Fest is held every year on Fourth of July weekend in the tiny mountain town of Brian Head, Utah.  Brian Head sits just above 9800 feet elevation and is nestled in a ravine surrounded by towering pines and snow-capped mountains.  The population of the town is small, but over the Fourth, town is packed with visitors staying in their vacation home or condo.

We've done this show for several years, and we are delighted with the way it has evolved.  The first year we did it, it had dog parades and pie eating contests and other carnival-like activities for attendees.  Those attributes have given way to a true art festival atmosphere, where high-quality artists and crafters can exhibit their work. 

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and were escorted by the show organizer, Kristi Grosberg, to the spot where we could park our travel trailer and truck.  To our delight, that spot was just behind where our booth would be set up.  It was simply heaven!

Although we arrived in the rain Thursday, Friday was a reasonably nice day.  It was cloudy and cool all day, but it stayed dry.  Live music was provided late in the afternoon and foot traffic and sales were good throughout the day.

Saturday started out beautiful, but the weather quickly turned nasty midday.  We all sat out a two-hour deluge of rain and hail.  But then everyone reopened, and all of the shoppers (who had been hiding from the rain as well) came back out.  All in all, this is a predictably good show for us, and this year was no different.  It is such a delight to sit in this beautiful location and escape the heat of our home at a lower elevation.  It was a blast.

Here is our rating, on a scale of 1 (atrocious) to 10 (spectacular) for the Brian Head Arts Fest:


Load In/Load Out  10
Availability of show organizers during show 10
Overall layout and traffic pattern 10
Mix of show 10
Show matched pre-show materials 10
Parking for exhibitors 10
Overall rating  10

Weather Expectations: Temperatures at this elevation this time of year tend to be high 70s during the day and can drop into the 40s at night.  Bring a jacket!  Afternoon thunderstorms are common, too.

Who should do this show? This show is appropriate for any artists or crafters.  It is well attended by customers who understand that art and handmade are worth what you pay for it.  The booth fee of $125 is reasonable.

Would we recommend this show to other exhibitors? Yes

Will we do this show again?  Absolutely yes!